Locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva: A challenging question for gynecologic oncologists

Gynecol Oncol. 2020 Jul;158(1):208-217. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2020.05.021. Epub 2020 May 25.


Squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva is a rare female malignancy, with an incidence increasing with age. Unfortunately, one third of the patients are diagnosed with locally advanced disease, which constitutes a clinical challenge for the clinicians who treat these patients. The main challenges are represented by: 1. The primary site of the disease, which can be proximal to anatomical structures like the anal canal posteriorly, or the urethra and the bladder anteriorly, that in some circumstances cannot be spared without a bowel and/or urinary stoma; 2. The locoregional nodes that can be involved by the tumor, and they can be bulky, fixed or ulcerated; 3. The clinical condition of the patient, who may carry several comorbidities. Treatment modalities include radiation with or without chemotherapy, and surgery. In order to preserve the bowel and the urinary function without a permanent stoma, a personalized management with a multimodality approach is warranted. In this systematic review, we first clarify the different definitions of "locally advanced vulvar carcinoma". Secondly, we evaluated the different treatment modalities described in the literature, and the impact of the different treatment strategies on prognosis and on preservation of bowel/urinary function. Finally, we offer a possible algorithm that may help the clinicians in treating patients with these uncommon and challenging situations with a multidisciplinary approach.

Keywords: Chemoradiotherapy; Chemotherapy; Radiotherapy; Surgery; Vulvar cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Precision Medicine
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / therapy*