The management of vulval cancer

Cancer Treat Rev. 2009 Nov;35(7):533-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2009.01.005. Epub 2009 Aug 20.


Referral of women with vulval carcinoma to tertiary centres is now established practise in the UK. The centralisation of care for these women promotes the development of specialist teams of gynaecological oncologists, clinical oncologists, pathologists and clinical nurse specialists with expertise in the management of this relatively rare tumour. The primary care physician plays an essential role in the early detection and subsequent urgent referral of women with suspicious vulval lesions. Improved education and awareness campaigns may encourage women to report vulval symptoms early. Where vulval carcinoma is diagnosed at an early stage, surgical excision is likely to be curative. There is, however, a move away from radical surgery for all patients irrespective of stage of disease towards an individualised approach, which takes into account the size and position of the tumour. The challenge is to reduce morbidity associated with treatment without compromising on cure rates. Restricting groin lymphadenectomy to women with lymph node metastases may be possible with the advent of sentinel node technology and it is anticipated that expertise in this area will show significant advances over the coming years. There is still a place for radical surgery, often in combination with other treatment modalities, in the management of advanced or recurrent disease. This article will review the evidence for the current management of vulval carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / pathology
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / surgery
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / therapy*