Role of adjuvant external beam radiotherapy and chemotherapy in one versus two or more node-positive vulvar cancer: A National Cancer Database study

Radiother Oncol. 2018 Dec;129(3):534-539. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2018.03.023. Epub 2018 Apr 6.


Background and purpose: Inguinal lymph node involvement is considered the most important prognostic risk factor for survival in vulvar cancer. However, controversy exists concerning the optimal adjuvant therapy for node-positive disease. This study sought to identify the optimal adjuvant therapy for each subset of women with node-positive disease.

Material and methods: The National Cancer Database (NCDB) was queried to identify women with inguinal node positive vulvar cancer. Survival analysis was performed using log-rank test, the Kaplan-Meier estimates, and Cox proportional hazards to both clarify prognosis and identify the benefit of each treatment modality in individual subsets of women.

Results: A total of 2779 women with inguinal node positive vulvar cancer were identified. On multivariate Cox model hazard ratio, radiotherapy yielded a survival advantage for women with one positive node (HR 0.81, p = 0.027) and two or more positive nodes (HR = 0.59, p < 0.001). The addition of chemotherapy to radiotherapy yielded an incremental improvement in survival for women with 2 or more positive nodes (HR = 0.79, p = 0.022) but not women with 1 positive node (HR = 0.93, p = 0.605).

Conclusions: All patients with node positive disease benefited from radiotherapy. By contrast, only those with 2 or more positive nodes benefited from the addition of chemotherapy to radiotherapy.

Keywords: Adjuvant therapy; Chemotherapy; NCDB; Node positive; Radiotherapy; Vulvar cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / mortality
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / pathology
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / radiotherapy*