Management of patients with vulvar cancer: a perspective review according to tumour stage

Ther Adv Med Oncol. 2013 May;5(3):183-92. doi: 10.1177/1758834012471699.


Treatment of patients with vulvar cancer is challenging for gynaecologic oncologists. Owing to the localization in a sensitive area, surgical radicality and the indication for adjuvant treatment have to be balanced with psychosocial aspects to treat patients adequately. Clinical management is therefore highly dependent on the tumour stage. For patients with early-stage disease (FIGO I-II) therapy mainly concentrates on surgery with resection of the primary tumour and staging of the groin lymph nodes. In intermediate-stage vulvar cancer (FIGO III), advanced disease is expressed by affected inguinofemoral lymph nodes bringing radical lymphadenectomy and adjuvant therapy as well as radiation or chemoradiation into the focus of treatment. For locally advanced or metastatic vulvar cancer (FIGO IV) neoadjuvant or definitive chemoradiation has to be considered besides surgery. Owing to the low incidence of the disease, the level of evidence for different treatment modalities is poor. This review therefore puts different recommendations of clinical management in context and highlights the need for future trials.

Keywords: adjuvant therapy; chemoradiation; locally advanced tumour; radiotherapy; surgery; treatment; vulvar cancer.