Objective: To evaluate a regimen of radiation and chemotherapy as an alternative for those patients in whom the location and extent of advanced vulvar carcinoma make pelvic exenteration the only surgical option.
Methods: Between December 1988 and March 1995, 14 patients with primary squamous carcinoma of the vulva who were not candidates for standard radical vulvectomy were treated with radiation therapy in combination with cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) chemotherapy at the Albany Medical Center. Patients ranged in age from 40 to 90 years, mean 68. Tumors were stage III in 9 patients and stage IV in 5 patients. Treatment included two cycles of chemotherapy with cisplatin (50 mg/m2) and 5-FU (1000 mg/m2/24 x 96 hr) in addition to radiation therapy. Total radiation doses to the vulva and groins ranged from 50 to 65 Gray (Gy), with pelvic doses of 45 to 50 Gy. Surgical excision of the primary site was not performed in patients who had complete clinical response.
Results: Acute complications included desquamation requiring treatment interruptions in 5 patients and deep venous thrombosis in 1 patient. Delayed complications were limited to small bowel obstruction and colonic stricture in one patient. There was a 92% response rate with complete responses in 9 patients (64%). Among patients with complete clinical response, there has been only one recurrence with follow-up of 7-81 months, mean 36.5. All patients with partial responses died, with survival of 8-25 months, mean 15.7.
Conclusions: This combination of chemoradiation was found to be effective therapy for locally advanced vulvar carcinoma, with acceptable morbidity even in an elderly population. Surgical excision of the primary site is not necessary in patients with complete response.