Vulvar carcinoma

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1995 Jul 30;32(5):1351-7. doi: 10.1016/0360-3016(95)00090-L.


Purpose: Controversies exist regarding the use of radiation therapy in the treatment of vulvar carcinoma. A retrospective review was performed to evaluate our institution's experience with surgery and radiation for this disease.

Methods and materials: The medical records of 47 patients treated for squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva at our institution (1974-1992) were reviewed for TNM stage (AJCC criteria), treatment modality, and associated 5-year local control and survival based on Kaplan-Meier analysis.

Results: Twenty-eight patients (60%) presented with Stage I and II disease and their 5-year survival was 69%. Stage III patients accounted for 12 (25%) of the patients and their 5-year survival was 73%. Seven patients presented with Stage IV disease and five died within 13 months of diagnosis after predominantly palliative therapy. The 40 patients with Stages I, II, and III disease were treated aggressively and were further evaluated for treatment-modality-associated survival and local control. Radiation therapy was used as primary treatment in nine patients, of whom seven were treated with radiation alone and two were treated postoperatively after wide excision. Surgery alone was performed in 31 patients consisting of either radical vulvectomy (20 patients) or wide excision (11 patients). When comparing outcomes of radical vulvectomy vs. radiation therapy, we noted that the 5-year actuarial survivals were comparable (74% for either modality), despite the presence of more favorable prognostic factors in the group treated with radical vulvectomy. Patients treated with wide excision alone had a trend for a poorer 5-year actuarial survival (51%) and local control (50%).

Conclusions: Radical vulvectomy offers good locoregional control and survival. This retrospective review further supports the use of radiation therapy with conservative surgery as an alternative treatment option for patients with vulvar carcinoma treated with curative intent. In contrast, the use of wide excision alone should be performed with caution due to a higher locoregional failure rate. The role of appropriately prescribed radiation therapy should be further investigated in prospective clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Failure
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / mortality
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / pathology
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / surgery*