Objective: To analyze patterns and frequency of recurrences of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the vulva after wide local excision (WLE) and superficial inguinal lymphadenectomy with separate incisions and to identify prognostic factors for the development of recurrences.
Methods: Between January 1985 and December 1999, all 125 consecutive patients with primary SCC of the vulva, treated with WLE and superficial inguinal lymphadenectomy, were retrospectively analyzed. Recurrences were registered by localization as: local, skin bridge, groin or distant.
Results: A local recurrence was diagnosed in 29 (23%) patients, 11 (9%) developed a groin and 4 (3%) a distant recurrence. No skin bridge recurrences were identified. The 5 years local relapse-free survival was 70%. After a first local recurrence, 72% of these patients developed a second local recurrence. Adjusted for other predictors, older age (>74 years) is an independent risk factor for local recurrences (HR: 2.38; 95%-C.I.: 1.08-5.23) and stage III/IV cancer for developing groin/distant recurrences (HR: 3.03; 95%-C.I.: 1.0-9.18).
Conclusion: WLE and superficial inguinal lymphadenectomy with separate incisions result in a high groin recurrence rate in this study; superficial lymphadenectomy should be replaced by deep inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy. After a local recurrence, 72% of the patients developed a second local recurrence. These patients are at high risk and need a close follow-up.