Impact of radical operative treatment on the quality of life in women with vulvar cancer--a retrospective study

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2014 Jul;40(7):875-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2014.03.027. Epub 2014 Apr 3.


Objectives: For patients undergoing vulva surgery the quality of life (QoL) is generally accepted as an important outcome parameter in addition to long-term survival, mortality and complication rates. Less radical operative treatment can reduce morbidity and thereby improve quality of life. This study focuses on outcome in terms of QoL in patients comparing wide local excision (WLE) with radical vulvectomy and waiver of lymphonodectomy (LNE) with inguinofemoral lymphonodectomy.

Methods: In a retrospective single-center study from 2000 to 2010, 199 patients underwent surgery for vulvar cancer. To assess QoL, the EORTC QLQ-C30 and a tumor-specific module questionnaire were sent to all patients in the follow-up period.

Results: Women who underwent WLE have a superior QoL with regard to global health status and physical, role, emotional and cognitive functioning than those who underwent radical vulvectomy. Less radical surgery also implies less fatigue, nausea/vomiting, pain, insomnia, appetite loss, diarrhea and financial difficulties. After radical vulvectomy 89% of patients have sexual complications.

Conclusion: Radical operative treatment, such as radical vulvectomy, causes deterioration in the QoL of these patients. An individualized, less radical surgery must be the aim in the treatment of vulvar cancer.

Keywords: Disease free survival; EORTC QLQ-C30; Lymphonodectomy; Overall survival; Quality of life; Radical vulvectomy; Vulvar cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision / methods
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymph Nodes / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / diagnosis
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / epidemiology
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / psychology
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / surgery*