Electrochemotherapy as an Alternative Treatment Option to Pelvic Exenteration for Recurrent Vulvar Cancer of the Perineum Region

Technol Cancer Res Treat. 2022 Jan-Dec:21:15330338221116489. doi: 10.1177/15330338221116489.


Objective: Pelvic exenteration in women with recurrent vulvar carcinoma is associated with high morbidity and mortality and substantial treatment costs. Because pelvic exenteration severely affects the quality of life and can lead to significant complications, other treatment modalities, such as electrochemotherapy, have been proposed. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and suitability of electrochemotherapy in the treatment of recurrent vulvar cancer. We aimed to analyze the treatment options, treatment outcomes, and complications in patients with recurrent vulvar cancer of the perineum. Methods: A retrospective analysis of patients who had undergone pelvic exenteration for vulvar cancer at the Institute of Oncology Ljubljana over a 16-year period was performed. As an experimental, less mutilating treatment, electrochemotherapy was performed on one patient with recurrent vulvar cancer involving the perineum. Comparative data analysis was performed between the group with pelvic exenteration and the patient with electrochemotherapy, comparing hospital stay, disease recurrence after treatment, survival after treatment in months, and quality of life after treatment. Results: We observed recurrence of disease in 2 patients with initial FIGO stage IIIC disease 3 months and 32 months after pelvic exenteration, and they died of the disease 15 and 38 months after pelvic exenteration. Two patients with FIGO stage IB were alive at 74 and 88 months after pelvic exenteration. One patient with initial FIGO stage IIIC was alive 12 months after treatment with electrochemotherapy with no visible signs of disease progression in the vulvar region, and the lesions had a complete response. The patient treated with electrochemotherapy was hospitalized for 4 days compared with the patients with pelvic exenteration, in whom the average hospital stay was 19.75 (± 1.68) days. Conclusion: Our experience has shown that electrochemotherapy might be a less radical alternative to pelvic exenteration, especially for patients with initially higher FIGO stages.

Keywords: electrochemotherapy; pelvic exenteration; recurrent disease; surgery; vulvar cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Electrochemotherapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery
  • Pelvic Exenteration*
  • Perineum / surgery
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vulvar Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Vulvar Neoplasms* / pathology