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Vulvar Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI]

Vulvar Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI]

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http://cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

Vulvar Cancer Treatment

General Information About Vulvar Cancer

Incidence and Mortality

Vulvar cancer accounts for about 5% of cancers of the female genital system in the United States.

Estimated new cases and deaths from vulvar cancer in the United States in 2012:[1]

  • New cases: 4,490.
  • Deaths: 950.

The vulva is the area immediately external to the vagina, including the mons pubis, labia, clitoris, Bartholin glands, and perineum. The labia majora are the most common site of vulvar carcinoma involvement and account for about 50% of cases. The labia minora account for 15% to 20% of vulvar carcinoma cases. The clitoris and Bartholin glands are less frequently involved.[2] Lesions are multifocal in about 5% of cases. About 90% of vulvar carcinomas are squamous cell cancers.[3] This evidence summary covers squamous cell cancers and vulvar intraepithelial neoplasias (VIN), some of which are thought to be precursors to invasive squamous cell cancers.

Prognosis

Survival is dependent on the pathologic status of the inguinal nodes and whether spread to adjacent structures has occurred. The size of the primary tumor is less important in defining prognosis.[4] In patients with operable disease without nodal involvement, the overall survival (OS) rate is 90%; however, in patients with nodal involvement, the 5-year OS rate is approximately 50% to 60%.[5]

Risk Factors

Risk factors for lymph node metastasis include the following:[5,6,7,8,9]

  • Clinical node status.
  • Age.
  • Degree of differentiation.
  • Tumor stage.
  • Tumor thickness.
  • Depth of stromal invasion.
  • Presence of capillary-lymphatic space invasion.

Overall, about 30% of patients with operable disease have lymph nodal spread.

In many cases, the development of vulvar cancer is preceded by condyloma or squamous dysplasia. The prevailing evidence favors human papillomavirus (HPV) as a causative factor in many genital tract carcinomas.[10] The HPV-related basaloid and warty types are associated with VIN. About 75% to 100% of basaloid and warty carcinomas harbor HPV infection. In addition to the much higher prevalence of HPV in these subtypes than in the keratinizing subtypes, the basaloid and warty subtypes also share many common risk factors with cervical cancers, including multiplicity of sex partners, early age at initiation of sexual intercourse, and history of abnormal Pap smears.[11] HPV-associated VIN (termed usual-type VIN when high-grade 2 and 3) is most common in women younger than 50 years, whereas non-HPV VIN (termed differentiated-type VIN when high-grade 3) is most common in older women. The former lesion-type VIN grade 1 is no longer classified as a true VIN.[12,13]

The pattern of spread is influenced by the histology. Well-differentiated lesions tend to spread along the surface with minimal invasion, whereas anaplastic lesions are more likely to be deeply invasive. Spread beyond the vulva is either to adjacent organs such as the vagina, urethra, and anus, or via the lymphatics to the inguinal and femoral lymph nodes, followed by the deep pelvic nodes. Hematogenous spread appears to be uncommon.

References:

1. American Cancer Society.: Cancer Facts and Figures 2012. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2012. Available online. Last accessed September 24, 2012.
2. Macnab JC, Walkinshaw SA, Cordiner JW, et al.: Human papillomavirus in clinically and histologically normal tissue of patients with genital cancer. N Engl J Med 315 (17): 1052-8, 1986.
3. Eifel PJ, Berek JS, Markman MA: Cancer of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1311-44.
4. Vulva. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 379-81.
5. Homesley HD, Bundy BN, Sedlis A, et al.: Assessment of current International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics staging of vulvar carcinoma relative to prognostic factors for survival (a Gynecologic Oncology Group study). Am J Obstet Gynecol 164 (4): 997-1003; discussion 1003-4, 1991.
6. Boyce J, Fruchter RG, Kasambilides E, et al.: Prognostic factors in carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 20 (3): 364-77, 1985.
7. Sedlis A, Homesley H, Bundy BN, et al.: Positive groin lymph nodes in superficial squamous cell vulvar cancer. A Gynecologic Oncology Group Study. Am J Obstet Gynecol 156 (5): 1159-64, 1987.
8. Binder SW, Huang I, Fu YS, et al.: Risk factors for the development of lymph node metastasis in vulvar squamous cell carcinoma. Gynecol Oncol 37 (1): 9-16, 1990.
9. Homesley HD, Bundy BN, Sedlis A, et al.: Prognostic factors for groin node metastasis in squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva (a Gynecologic Oncology Group study) Gynecol Oncol 49 (3): 279-83, 1993.
10. Hampl M, Sarajuuri H, Wentzensen N, et al.: Effect of human papillomavirus vaccines on vulvar, vaginal, and anal intraepithelial lesions and vulvar cancer. Obstet Gynecol 108 (6): 1361-8, 2006.
11. Schiffman M, Kjaer SK: Chapter 2: Natural history of anogenital human papillomavirus infection and neoplasia. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr (31): 14-9, 2003.
12. Pepas L, Kaushik S, Bryant A, et al.: Medical interventions for high grade vulval intraepithelial neoplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (4): CD007924, 2011.
13. Sideri M, Jones RW, Wilkinson EJ, et al.: Squamous vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia: 2004 modified terminology, ISSVD Vulvar Oncology Subcommittee. J Reprod Med 50 (11): 807-10, 2005.

Cellular Classification of Vulvar Cancer

Presented below is an adaptation of the histologic classification of vulvar disease and precursor lesions of cancer of the vulva developed by the International Society for the Study of Vulvar Disease.[1] This evidence summary deals with vulvar intraepithelial neoplasias (VIN) and invasive carcinomas.

Non-neoplastic epithelial disorders of skin and mucosa

  • Lichen sclerosus (lichen sclerosus et atrophicus).
  • Squamous cell hyperplasia (formerly hyperplastic dystrophy).
  • Other dermatoses.

VIN

  • Usual type (high-grade 2 and 3).
  • Differentiated type (high-grade 3).

Paget disease of the vulva

  • Characteristic large pale cells in the epithelium and skin adnexa.

Other histologies

  • Basal cell carcinoma.
  • Histiocytosis X.
  • Malignant melanoma.
  • Sarcoma.
  • Verrucous carcinoma.

References:

1. Sideri M, Jones RW, Wilkinson EJ, et al.: Squamous vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia: 2004 modified terminology, ISSVD Vulvar Oncology Subcommittee. J Reprod Med 50 (11): 807-10, 2005.

Stage Information for Vulvar Cancer

The diagnosis of vulvar cancer is made by biopsy. The patient may be examined under anesthesia. Cystoscopy, proctoscopy, x-ray examination of the lungs, and intravenous urography (as needed), are used for staging purposes. Suspected bladder or rectal involvement must be confirmed by biopsy. The staging system does not apply to malignant melanoma of the vulva, which is staged like melanoma of the skin.[1]

Definitions: FIGO

The Fédération Internationale de Gynécologie et d'Obstétrique (FIGO) and the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) have designated staging to define vulvar cancer; the FIGO system is most commonly used.[1,2] Stage is based upon pathology staging at the time of surgery or prior to any radiation or chemotherapy, if they are the initial treatment modalities.[3]

Table 1. Carcinoma of the Vulvaa

a Adapted from FIGO Committee on Gynecologic Oncology.[2]
b The depth of invasion is defined as the measurement of the tumor from the epithelial-stromal junction of the adjacent most superficial dermal papilla to the deepest point of invasion.
Stage I Tumor confined to the vulva.
IA Lesions ?2 cm in size, confined to the vulva or perineum and with stromal invasion ?1.0 mmb, no nodal metastasis.
IB Lesions >2 cm in size or with stromal invasion >1.0 mmb, confined to the vulva or perineum, with negative nodes.
Stage II Tumor of any size with extension to adjacent perineal structures (1/3 lower urethra, 1/3 lower vagina, anus) with negative nodes.
Stage III Tumor of any size with or without extension to adjacent perineal structures (1/3 lower urethra, 1/3 lower vagina, anus) with positive inguino-femoral lymph nodes.
IIIA (i) With 1 lymph node metastasis (?5 mm), or
(ii) 1–2 lymph node metastasis(es) (<5 mm).
IIIB (i) With 2 or more lymph node metastases (?5 mm), or
(ii) 3 or more lymph node metastases (<5 mm).
IIIC With positive nodes with extracapsular spread.
Stage IV Tumor invades other regional (2/3 upper urethra, 2/3 upper vagina), or distant structures.
IVA Tumor invades any of the following:
(i) upper urethral and/or vaginal mucosa, bladder mucosa, rectal mucosa, or fixed to pelvic bone, or
(ii) fixed or ulcerated inguino-femoral lymph nodes.
IVB Any distant metastasis including pelvic lymph nodes.

Grade is reported in registry systems. A two-, three-, or four-grade system may be used. If not specified, the following system is generally used:[1]

  • GX: Grade cannot be assessed.
  • G1: Well differentiated.
  • G2: Moderately differentiated.
  • G3: Poorly differentiated.
  • G4: Undifferentiated.

References:

1. Vulva. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 379-81.
2. Pecorelli S: Revised FIGO staging for carcinoma of the vulva, cervix, and endometrium. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 105 (2): 103-4, 2009.
3. Hopkins MP, Reid GC, Johnston CM, et al.: A comparison of staging systems for squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 47 (1): 34-7, 1992.

Treatment Option Overview

Standard primary treatment for vulvar cancer is surgery. Radiation is usually added to surgery in patients with stage III or IV disease.[1,2,3] Newer strategies have integrated surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy and tailor the treatment to the extent of clinical and pathologic disease. Patterns of practice in combining these treatments vary.[4]

Since invasive and preinvasive neoplasms of the vulva may be HPV-induced and the carcinogenic effect may be widespread in the vulvar epithelium, patients should be followed regularly for symptoms or signs of recurrence. Because there are few patients with advanced disease (stages III and IV), only limited data are available on treatment efficacy in this setting, and there is no standard chemotherapy regimen for these patients. Physicians should offer eligible patients with stage III or IV disease participation in clinical trials.

Information about ongoing clinical trials is available on the NCI Web site.

Role of Surgery

Primary surgery

Until the 1980s, the standard therapeutic approach to therapy for invasive locoregional vulvar carcinomas was radical surgery, including complete en bloc resection of the vulva and regional lymph nodes. Because of the high attendant complication rates, wound healing problems, lymphedema, and functional deficits, the trend since then has been toward more limited surgery, often combined with radiation therapy.[5] (Refer to the Role of Radiation Therapy section of this summary for more information.)

In tumors clinically confined to the vulva or perineum, radical local excision with a margin of at least 1 cm has generally replaced radical vulvectomy; separate incision has replaced en bloc inguinal node dissection; ipsilateral inguinal node dissection has replaced bilateral dissection for laterally localized tumors; and femoral lymph node dissection has been omitted in many cases. However, the different surgical techniques have not been directly compared in randomized controlled trials. In addition, even the nonrandomized studies suffer from lack of uniform staging definitions and clear descriptions of lymph node dissection or ancillary radiation.[6][Levels of evidence: 3iiiDii, 3iiiDiv] The evidence base is therefore limited.

Nodal surgery

Another strategy to minimize the morbidity incurred by groin-node dissection in patients with early clinical-stage disease is sentinel node dissection, reserving groin dissection for those with metastases to the sentinel node(s).

In a multicenter case series, 403 patients with primary vulvar squamous cell cancers smaller than 4 cm and clinically negative groin nodes underwent 623 sentinel node dissections using radioactive tracer and blue dye for sentinel node identification.[7] All patients had radical resection of the primary tumor. Node metastases were identified in 26% of sentinel node procedures, and these patients went on to full inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy. The patients with negative sentinel nodes were followed with no further therapy.

Local morbidity was much lower in patients who underwent sentinel node dissection than in patients with positive sentinel nodes who also underwent inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy: wound breakdown 11.7% vs. 34.0%; cellulitis 4.5% vs. 21.3%; chronic lymphedema 1.9% vs. 25.2%, respectively (P < .0001 for all comparisons). Mean hospital stay was also shorter: 8.4 vs. 13.7 days (P < .0001). After two local recurrences in 17 patients with multifocal primary tumors, the protocol was amended to only allow patients with unifocal tumors into the study. Actuarial groin recurrence for all patients with negative sentinel node dissections at 2 years was 3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 1%–6%) and 2% (95% CI, 1%–5%) for those with unifocal primary tumors.[7][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]

Therefore, sentinel node dissection may be useful when performed by a surgeon experienced in the procedure, and it may avoid the need for full groin node dissection or radiation in patients with clinically nonsuspicious lymph nodes. (Refer to the Role of Radiation Therapy section of this summary for more information.)

Role of Radiation Therapy

Groin lymph node metastases are present in approximately 20% to 35% of patients with tumors clinically confined to the vulva and with clinically negative nodes.[7,8] Lymph node dissection is traditionally part of the primary surgical therapy in all but the smallest tumors. However, a major cause of morbidity after surgery is groin node dissection, which is associated with high rates of wound breakdown, lymphocele formation, and chronic lymphedema. Some investigators recommend radiation therapy as a means to avoid the morbidity of lymph node dissection, but it is not clear whether radiation therapy can achieve the same local control rates or survival rates as lymph node dissection in early stage disease.

Inguinal nodes

A randomized trial to address the radiation therapy issue in patients with clinically localized vulvar cancer has been reported.[8,9] In that study, women with disease clinically confined to the vulva, who did not have groin lymph nodes clinically suspicious for metastases, underwent radical vulvectomy followed by either groin radiation (50 Gy in 2 Gy fractions) or groin dissection (plus groin radiation if nodes were pathologically involved).

Although the planned accrual was 300 patients, the study was stopped after 58 women were randomly assigned to it because of worse outcomes in the radiation therapy arm. Five (18.5%) of 27 women in the radiation therapy arm and 0 of 25 women in the surgery arm had a groin recurrence, but this difference was not statistically significant (relative risk [RR], 10.21; 95% CI, 0.59–175.78). There were ten deaths in the radiation therapy arm versus three deaths in the groin dissection study arm (RR, 4.31; 95% CI, 1.03–18.15). Disease-specific mortality was not statistically significantly different between the two arms; however, there were eight versus two vulvar cancer-related deaths (including one related to groin dissection), in the radiation therapy arm and groin dissection arm, respectively (RR, 3.70; 95% CI, 0.87–15.80).[8,9][Level of evidence 1iiA] There were fewer cases of lymphedema in the radiation therapy arm (0 vs. 7) and shorter hospital stays. The dose penetration of the radiation (3 cm for full dose) has been criticized as inadequate.[8] In summary, the trial was stopped prematurely, and little can be said about the relative efficacy of the two treatment approaches.[8]

Pelvic nodes

Pelvic radiation has been compared to pelvic node dissection in the setting of documented groin node-positive disease. Patients with clinical stage I to stage IV primary squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva in whom groin nodal metastases were found at radical vulvectomy and bilateral groin node dissection were randomly assigned during the surgical procedure to receive either ipsilateral pelvic node resection or pelvic radiation (45 Gy–50 Gy at 1.8 Gy–2.0 Gy per fraction).[10] Because of a perceived emerging benefit of radiation, the planned accrual of 152 was stopped after 114 patients were randomly assigned. However, the apparent benefit of radiation was subsequently attenuated with further follow-up.

After a median follow-up of 74 months, the 6-year overall survival (OS) rate was 51% in the radiation arm versus 41% in the pelvic node dissection arm (hazard ratio [HR], 0.61; 95% CI, 0.3–1.3; P = .18). Vulvar cancer-specific mortality was statistically significantly lower in the radiation study arm: 29% versus 51% in the pelvic node resection arm (HR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.28–0.87; P = .015) However, there were 14 intercurrent deaths in the radiation therapy arm versus two deaths in the pelvic dissection study arm. Late chronic lymphedema was similar in the radiation therapy and pelvic dissection groups arms (16% vs. 22%), respectively.[10][Level of evidence: 1iiB]

Radical radiation therapy can be used for patients unable to tolerate surgery or deemed unsuitable for surgery because of site or extent of disease.[11,12,13,14]

Role of Chemotherapy

There is no standard chemotherapy for vulvar cancer, and reports describing the use of this modality in the setting of metastatic or recurrent disease are anecdotal.[5] Extrapolating from regimens used for anal or cervical squamous cell cancers, chemotherapy has been studied in combination with radiation in the neoadjuvant setting or as primary therapy in advanced disease. Chemotherapy regimens have included various combinations of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), cisplatin, mitomycin-C, or bleomycin.[5] There is no clear evidence of improvement in survival or palliation. Given the advanced age and comorbidity of many patients with advanced or recurrent vulvar cancer, patient tolerance is a major consideration in the use of these agents.

Systemic treatment for inoperable patients

A systematic review of the use of neoadjuvant chemoradiation in patients who were considered inoperable or who would have required extensive surgery, such as pelvic exenteration, colostomy, or urinary diversion revealed no randomized trials.[15] Five nonrandomized studies that met the inclusion criteria of neoadjuvant chemoradiation administered in this population with an intent to permit curative surgery were reviewed.[16,17,18,19,20] The five studies used four different chemoradiation schedules and different radiation therapy dose-fractionation techniques. In the four studies using 5-FU + cisplatin or 5-FU + mitomycin-C, the operability rate after chemoradiation ranged from 63% to 92%.[16,17,18,19]

In the one study using bleomycin, the operability rate was only 20%.[20] In summary, there is evidence that neoadjuvant chemoradiation with 5-FU plus either cisplatin or mitomycin-C may convert patients to more operable status, but the evidence base is limited by study design. In addition to a paucity of randomized trials, interpretation of these studies is complicated by the lack of a standard definition of inoperability.[4][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv] Treatment-related toxicity is substantial.

Systemic treatment for operable patients

There is also limited evidence regarding the use of neoadjuvant chemoradiation in advanced operable cases of vulvar cancer, but the available data do not suggest an advantage to this approach. A systematic review found only one randomized trial that addressed this issue, and it was published only in abstract form.[4,21] In that trial, 68 patients with advanced vulvar cancer (T2 >4 cm, T3, any case with positive lymph nodes) were randomly assigned to receive preoperative neoadjuvant radiation therapy (50 Gy) concomitantly with 5-FU plus mitomycin-C versus primary surgery. Neoadjuvant therapy-related serious toxicity was high (13 of 24 patients; 10 patients had wound diastasis). After a mean follow-up of 42 months, the 5-year OS rates in the neoadjuvant and primary surgery groups were 30% and 49%, respectively (RR of death, 1.39; 95% CI, 0.94–2.06; P = .19).[4,21][Level of evidence 1iiA]

References:

1. Hacker NF, Van der Velden J: Conservative management of early vulvar cancer. Cancer 71 (4 Suppl): 1673-7, 1993.
2. Thomas GM, Dembo AJ, Bryson SC, et al.: Changing concepts in the management of vulvar cancer. Gynecol Oncol 42 (1): 9-21, 1991.
3. Homesley HD, Bundy BN, Sedlis A, et al.: Radiation therapy versus pelvic node resection for carcinoma of the vulva with positive groin nodes. Obstet Gynecol 68 (6): 733-40, 1986.
4. Shylasree TS, Bryant A, Howells RE: Chemoradiation for advanced primary vulval cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (4): CD003752, 2011.
5. Eifel PJ, Berek JS, Markman MA: Cancer of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1311-44.
6. Ansink A, van der Velden J: Surgical interventions for early squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD002036, 2000.
7. Van der Zee AG, Oonk MH, De Hullu JA, et al.: Sentinel node dissection is safe in the treatment of early-stage vulvar cancer. J Clin Oncol 26 (6): 884-9, 2008.
8. Stehman FB, Bundy BN, Thomas G, et al.: Groin dissection versus groin radiation in carcinoma of the vulva: a Gynecologic Oncology Group study. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 24 (2): 389-96, 1992.
9. van der Velden J, Fons G, Lawrie TA: Primary groin irradiation versus primary groin surgery for early vulvar cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (5): CD002224, 2011.
10. Kunos C, Simpkins F, Gibbons H, et al.: Radiation therapy compared with pelvic node resection for node-positive vulvar cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol 114 (3): 537-46, 2009.
11. Petereit DG, Mehta MP, Buchler DA, et al.: Inguinofemoral radiation of N0,N1 vulvar cancer may be equivalent to lymphadenectomy if proper radiation technique is used. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 27 (4): 963-7, 1993.
12. Slevin NJ, Pointon RC: Radical radiotherapy for carcinoma of the vulva. Br J Radiol 62 (734): 145-7, 1989.
13. Perez CA, Grigsby PW, Galakatos A, et al.: Radiation therapy in management of carcinoma of the vulva with emphasis on conservation therapy. Cancer 71 (11): 3707-16, 1993.
14. Kumar PP, Good RR, Scott JC: Techniques for management of vulvar cancer by irradiation alone. Radiat Med 6 (4): 185-91, 1988 Jul-Aug.
15. van Doorn HC, Ansink A, Verhaar-Langereis M, et al.: Neoadjuvant chemoradiation for advanced primary vulvar cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 3: CD003752, 2006.
16. Eifel PJ, Morris M, Burke TW, et al.: Prolonged continuous infusion cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil with radiation for locally advanced carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 59 (1): 51-6, 1995.
17. Landoni F, Maneo A, Zanetta G, et al.: Concurrent preoperative chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil and mitomycin C and radiotherapy (FUMIR) followed by limited surgery in locally advanced and recurrent vulvar carcinoma. Gynecol Oncol 61 (3): 321-7, 1996.
18. Montana GS, Thomas GM, Moore DH, et al.: Preoperative chemo-radiation for carcinoma of the vulva with N2/N3 nodes: a gynecologic oncology group study. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 48 (4): 1007-13, 2000.
19. Moore DH, Thomas GM, Montana GS, et al.: Preoperative chemoradiation for advanced vulvar cancer: a phase II study of the Gynecologic Oncology Group. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 42 (1): 79-85, 1998.
20. Scheiströen M, Tropé C: Combined bleomycin and irradiation in preoperative treatment of advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Acta Oncol 32 (6): 657-61, 1993.
21. Maneo A, Landoni F, Colombo A, et al.: Randomised study between neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy and primary surgery for the treatment of advanced vulvar cancer. [Abstract] Int J Gynecol Cancer 13 (Suppl 1): A-PL19, 6, 2003.

Stage 0 Vulvar Cancer

Traditionally, there were three grades of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN). However, there is little evidence that all three grades are part of the same biologic continuum or that Grade 1 is even a cancer precursor. In 2004, the International Society for the Study of Vulvar Disease changed its terminology, reserving the designation VIN for two categories of lesions based on morphologic appearance:[1]

1. Usual-type VIN: Human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated Grades 2 and 3 of warty, basaloid, or mixed histology, and usually occurring in young women.
2. Differentiated-type VIN: non-HPV-associated Grade 3, and usually occurring in older women.

The term VIN 1 was eliminated.[1] Disease that was previously called VIN 1 (grade I) is generally observed without definitive treatment.

High-grade VIN is usually managed with active therapy because of a higher risk for progression to invasive disease.[2] Estimates of progression rates are imprecise. A systematic literature review that included 88 untreated patients with VIN 3 reported a 9% progression rate (8 of 88 patients) to invasive vulvar cancer during 12 to 96 months of observation. In the same review, the spontaneous regression rate was 1.2%, all of which occurred in women younger than 35 years.[3] However, in a single-center study, 10 of 63 (16%) untreated women with VIN 2 or VIN 3 progressed to invasive cancer after a mean of 3.9 years.[4]

VIN lesions may be multifocal or confluent and extensive. It is important to perform multiple biopsies in treatment planning to exclude occult invasive disease. VIN located in nonhairy areas can be considered an epithelial disease; however, VIN occupying hairy sites usually involves the pilosebaceous apparatus and requires a greater depth of destruction or excision because it can track along hair roots.

Surgical Interventions

The principal treatment approach is surgical, but there is no consensus on the optimal surgical procedure. The goal is to remove or destroy the entire VIN lesion while preserving vulvar anatomy and function. Simple vulvectomy yields a 5-year survival rate of essentially 100% but is seldom indicated. Other more-limited surgical procedures, including separate excision of multiple lesions, are less deforming.[5] The choice of treatment depends on the extent of the disease and the preference or experience of the treating physician. There are no reliable data comparing the efficacy and safety of the various surgical approaches.

A systematic literature review identified only a single randomized trial comparing any of the surgical approaches.[2] In that trial, 30 women with high-grade VIN were randomly assigned to receive carbon dioxide (CO2) laser ablation versus ultrasound surgical aspiration (USA).[6] There were no statistically significant differences in disease recurrence, painful dysuria or burning, adhesions, or eschar formation between the two treatments after 1 year of follow-up. Scarring was observed in 5 of 16 women treated with laser ablation and 0 of14 women treated with USA (P < .01), but consequences of the scarring on sexual function or quality of life were not reported.[6][Level of evidence 1iiDii] The trial was too small to draw reliable conclusions about the relative efficacy of these surgical techniques. The remainder of the surgical literature is derived from case series and is prone to important study biases.[Level of evidence 3iiiD]

Whatever procedure is used, patients are at substantial risk of recurrence, particularly when the lesions are high grade or multifocal.[7] The most common sites of recurrence are the perianal skin, presacral area, and clitoral hood. About 4% of patients treated for VIN subsequently develop invasive cancer.[8,9]

Nonsurgical Interventions

Because of the physical and psychosexual morbidity associated with many vulvar surgical procedures, nonsurgical approaches have been studied. Some of these approaches, including topical 5-fluorouracil, gamma-interferon, bleomycin, and trinitrochlorobenzene, have been largely abandoned because of intolerable local side effects, such as pain, irritation, and ulceration, or high recurrence rates.[10,11] Photodynamic therapy, using topically applied 5-aminolevulinic acid as the sensitizing agent for 635 nm laser light, has also been studied. However, data are limited to small case series with variable response rates.[12,13][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]

More recently, among women with high-grade VIN, substantial response rates and acceptable tolerability were reported for topical imiquimod 5%, an immune-response modifier with activity in HPV 6/11-associated vulvar condylomata. Three randomized placebo-controlled trials (including a total of 104 patients) with clinical response as their primary endpoints.[Level of evidence: 1iDiv] have been reported in either peer-reviewed-journal or abstract format.[14,15,16,17] The results of these trials were summarized in a systematic review.[11] At 5 to 6 months, the complete and partial response rates in patients were 36 of 62 and 18 of 62 in the combined imiquimod arms versus 0 of 42 and 1 of 42 in the combined placebo arms (relative risk [RR], 11.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.21–44.51).

In the only trial reporting progression to cancer (at 12 months), there was no difference in progression rate, but the trial was severely underpowered because only 3 of the total 52 women included developed invasive disease by 12 months.[16] The only trial reporting quality of life [16] showed no difference between imiquimod and placebo. Local side effects of imiquimod included pain, edema, erythema, and a single case of erosion. However, no patients had to discontinue treatment as a result of toxicity.

Standard treatment options:

1. Separate excision of focal lesions.[3]
2. Wide local excision.[3]
3. CO2 laser surgery and vaporization.[2,6] A disadvantage of vaporization is that it does not provide tissue for histologic examination to confirm complete removal of the lesion and the absence of invasive disease.
4. Ultrasonic surgical aspiration (USA).[2,6]
5. Superficial skinning vulvectomy with or without grafting.[3]
6. Topical imiquimod for patients wishing to avoid surgery.[11,14,15,16,17]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage 0 vulvar cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

1. Sideri M, Jones RW, Wilkinson EJ, et al.: Squamous vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia: 2004 modified terminology, ISSVD Vulvar Oncology Subcommittee. J Reprod Med 50 (11): 807-10, 2005.
2. Kaushik S, Pepas L, Nordin A, et al.: Surgical interventions for high grade vulval intraepithelial neoplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1): CD007928, 2011.
3. van Seters M, van Beurden M, de Craen AJ: Is the assumed natural history of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia III based on enough evidence? A systematic review of 3322 published patients. Gynecol Oncol 97 (2): 645-51, 2005.
4. Jones RW, Rowan DM, Stewart AW: Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia: aspects of the natural history and outcome in 405 women. Obstet Gynecol 106 (6): 1319-26, 2005.
5. Eifel PJ, Berek JS, Markman MA: Cancer of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1311-44.
6. von Gruenigen VE, Gibbons HE, Gibbins K, et al.: Surgical treatments for vulvar and vaginal dysplasia: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol 109 (4): 942-7, 2007.
7. Küppers V, Stiller M, Somville T, et al.: Risk factors for recurrent VIN. Role of multifocality and grade of disease. J Reprod Med 42 (3): 140-4, 1997.
8. Buscema J, Woodruff JD, Parmley TH, et al.: Carcinoma in situ of the vulva. Obstet Gynecol 55 (2): 225-30, 1980.
9. Jones RW, Rowan DM: Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia III: a clinical study of the outcome in 113 cases with relation to the later development of invasive vulvar carcinoma. Obstet Gynecol 84 (5): 741-5, 1994.
10. Sillman FH, Sedlis A, Boyce JG: A review of lower genital intraepithelial neoplasia and the use of topical 5-fluorouracil. Obstet Gynecol Surv 40 (4): 190-220, 1985.
11. Pepas L, Kaushik S, Bryant A, et al.: Medical interventions for high grade vulval intraepithelial neoplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (4): CD007924, 2011.
12. Hillemanns P, Untch M, Dannecker C, et al.: Photodynamic therapy of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia using 5-aminolevulinic acid. Int J Cancer 85 (5): 649-53, 2000.
13. Fehr MK, Hornung R, Schwarz VA, et al.: Photodynamic therapy of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia III using topically applied 5-aminolevulinic acid. Gynecol Oncol 80 (1): 62-6, 2001.
14. Sterling JC, Smith NA, Loo WJ, et al.: Randomized, doubleblind, placebo-controlled trial for treatment of high grade vulval intraepithelial neoplasia with imiquimod. [Abstract] J Eur Acad Derm Venereol 19 (Suppl 2): A-FC06.1, 22, 2005.
15. Mathiesen O, Buus SK, Cramers M: Topical imiquimod can reverse vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia: a randomised, double-blinded study. Gynecol Oncol 107 (2): 219-22, 2007.
16. van Seters M, van Beurden M, ten Kate FJ, et al.: Treatment of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia with topical imiquimod. N Engl J Med 358 (14): 1465-73, 2008.
17. Terlou A, van Seters M, Ewing PC, et al.: Treatment of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia with topical imiquimod: seven years median follow-up of a randomized clinical trial. Gynecol Oncol 121 (1): 157-62, 2011.

Stage I Vulvar Cancer

(Refer to the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for a more detailed discussion of the roles of surgery, lymph node dissection, and radiation therapy.)

Standard treatment options:

1. A wide (1 cm margin) excision (without lymph node dissection) for microinvasive lesions (<1 mm invasion) with no associated severe vulvar dystrophy. For all other stage I lesions, if well lateralized, without diffuse severe dystrophy, and with clinically negative nodes, a radical local excision with complete unilateral lymphadenectomy.[1] Candidates for this procedure should have lesions 2 cm or smaller in diameter with 5 mm or less invasion, no capillary lymphatic space invasion, and clinically uninvolved nodes.[2,3]
2. Radical local excision with ipsilateral or bilateral inguinal and femoral node dissection. In tumor clinically confined to the vulva or perineum, radical local excision with a margin of at least 1 cm has generally replaced radical vulvectomy; separate incision has replaced en bloc inguinal node dissection, ipsilateral inguinal node dissection has replaced bilateral dissection for laterally localized tumors; and femoral lymph node dissection has been omitted in many cases.[4,5,6,7]
3. Radical local excision and sentinel node dissection, reserving groin dissection for those with metastasis to the sentinel node(s).[8]
4. Some investigators recommend radical excision and groin nodal radiation therapy as a means to avoid the morbidity of lymph node dissection. However, it is not clear whether radiation therapy can achieve the same local control rates or survival rates as lymph node dissection in early-stage disease. A randomized trial to address this issue in patients with clinically localized vulvar disease was stopped early as a result of early emergence of worse outcomes in the radiation therapy arm.[9,10] (Refer to the Role of Radiation Therapy section of this summary for more information.)
5. Radical radiation therapy for patients unable to tolerate surgery or deemed unsuitable for surgery because of site or extent of disease.[11,12,13,14]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I vulvar cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

1. Malfetano JH, Piver MS, Tsukada Y, et al.: Univariate and multivariate analyses of 5-year survival, recurrence, and inguinal node metastases in stage I and II vulvar carcinoma. J Surg Oncol 30 (2): 124-31, 1985.
2. Stehman FB, Bundy BN, Dvoretsky PM, et al.: Early stage I carcinoma of the vulva treated with ipsilateral superficial inguinal lymphadenectomy and modified radical hemivulvectomy: a prospective study of the Gynecologic Oncology Group. Obstet Gynecol 79 (4): 490-7, 1992.
3. Hacker NF, Van der Velden J: Conservative management of early vulvar cancer. Cancer 71 (4 Suppl): 1673-7, 1993.
4. Hoffman MS, Roberts WS, Lapolla JP, et al.: Recent modifications in the treatment of invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Obstet Gynecol Surv 44 (4): 227-33, 1989.
5. Thomas GM, Dembo AJ, Bryson SC, et al.: Changing concepts in the management of vulvar cancer. Gynecol Oncol 42 (1): 9-21, 1991.
6. Heaps JM, Fu YS, Montz FJ, et al.: Surgical-pathologic variables predictive of local recurrence in squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 38 (3): 309-14, 1990.
7. Eifel PJ, Berek JS, Markman MA: Cancer of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1311-44.
8. Van der Zee AG, Oonk MH, De Hullu JA, et al.: Sentinel node dissection is safe in the treatment of early-stage vulvar cancer. J Clin Oncol 26 (6): 884-9, 2008.
9. Stehman FB, Bundy BN, Thomas G, et al.: Groin dissection versus groin radiation in carcinoma of the vulva: a Gynecologic Oncology Group study. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 24 (2): 389-96, 1992.
10. van der Velden J, Fons G, Lawrie TA: Primary groin irradiation versus primary groin surgery for early vulvar cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (5): CD002224, 2011.
11. Petereit DG, Mehta MP, Buchler DA, et al.: Inguinofemoral radiation of N0,N1 vulvar cancer may be equivalent to lymphadenectomy if proper radiation technique is used. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 27 (4): 963-7, 1993.
12. Slevin NJ, Pointon RC: Radical radiotherapy for carcinoma of the vulva. Br J Radiol 62 (734): 145-7, 1989.
13. Perez CA, Grigsby PW, Galakatos A, et al.: Radiation therapy in management of carcinoma of the vulva with emphasis on conservation therapy. Cancer 71 (11): 3707-16, 1993.
14. Kumar PP, Good RR, Scott JC: Techniques for management of vulvar cancer by irradiation alone. Radiat Med 6 (4): 185-91, 1988 Jul-Aug.

Stage II Vulvar Cancer

(Refer to the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for a more detailed discussion of the roles of surgery, node dissection, and radiation therapy.)

Standard treatment options:

1. Radical local excision with bilateral inguinal node and femoral node dissection with a resection margin of at least 1 cm.[1] Radical local excision with a margin of at least 1 cm has generally replaced radical vulvectomy, and separate incision has replaced en bloc inguinal node dissection.[2] Large T2 tumors may require modified radical or radical vulvectomy.[3] Adjuvant local radiation therapy may be indicated for surgical margins smaller than 8 mm, capillary-lymphatic space invasion, and thickness greater than 5 mm.[4,5]
2. Radical excision and sentinel node dissection, reserving groin dissection for those with metastasis to the sentinel node(s).[6]
3. Some investigators recommend radical excision and groin nodal radiation therapy as a means to avoid the morbidity of lymph node dissection. However, radiation therapy may not achieve the same local control rates or survival rates as lymph node dissection in early-stage disease. A randomized trial to address this issue in patients with clinically localized vulvar disease was stopped early as a result of early emergence of worse outcomes in the radiation therapy group.[7,8] (Refer to the Role of Radiation Therapy section in this summary for more information.)
4. For those few patients unable to tolerate radical surgery or deemed unsuitable for surgery because of site or extent of disease, radical radiation therapy may be associated with favorable survival.[9,10,11,12]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage II vulvar cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

1. Hacker NF, Van der Velden J: Conservative management of early vulvar cancer. Cancer 71 (4 Suppl): 1673-7, 1993.
2. Hoffman MS, Roberts WS, Lapolla JP, et al.: Recent modifications in the treatment of invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Obstet Gynecol Surv 44 (4): 227-33, 1989.
3. Eifel PJ, Berek JS, Markman MA: Cancer of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1311-44.
4. Thomas GM, Dembo AJ, Bryson SC, et al.: Changing concepts in the management of vulvar cancer. Gynecol Oncol 42 (1): 9-21, 1991.
5. Faul CM, Mirmow D, Huang Q, et al.: Adjuvant radiation for vulvar carcinoma: improved local control. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 38 (2): 381-9, 1997.
6. Van der Zee AG, Oonk MH, De Hullu JA, et al.: Sentinel node dissection is safe in the treatment of early-stage vulvar cancer. J Clin Oncol 26 (6): 884-9, 2008.
7. Stehman FB, Bundy BN, Thomas G, et al.: Groin dissection versus groin radiation in carcinoma of the vulva: a Gynecologic Oncology Group study. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 24 (2): 389-96, 1992.
8. van der Velden J, Fons G, Lawrie TA: Primary groin irradiation versus primary groin surgery for early vulvar cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (5): CD002224, 2011.
9. Petereit DG, Mehta MP, Buchler DA, et al.: Inguinofemoral radiation of N0,N1 vulvar cancer may be equivalent to lymphadenectomy if proper radiation technique is used. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 27 (4): 963-7, 1993.
10. Slevin NJ, Pointon RC: Radical radiotherapy for carcinoma of the vulva. Br J Radiol 62 (734): 145-7, 1989.
11. Perez CA, Grigsby PW, Galakatos A, et al.: Radiation therapy in management of carcinoma of the vulva with emphasis on conservation therapy. Cancer 71 (11): 3707-16, 1993.
12. Kumar PP, Good RR, Scott JC: Techniques for management of vulvar cancer by irradiation alone. Radiat Med 6 (4): 185-91, 1988 Jul-Aug.

Stage III Vulvar Cancer

(Refer to the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for a more detailed discussion of the roles of surgery, node dissection, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.)

Modified radical or radical vulvectomy with inguinal and femoral lymphadenectomy is the standard therapy.[1] Nodal involvement is a key determinant of survival.

Standard treatment options:

1. Modified radical or radical vulvectomy with inguinal and femoral node dissection. Radiation therapy to the pelvis and groin is given if inguinal nodes are positive.[2]
2. Radical vulvectomy with inguinal and femoral node dissection followed by radiation therapy in patients with large primary lesions and narrow margins. Localized adjuvant radiation therapy consisting of 45 Gy to 50 Gy may also be indicated when there is capillary-lymphatic space invasion and a thickness of greater than 5 mm, particularly if the nodes are involved.[1] Radiation therapy to the pelvis and groin is usually given if two or more groin nodes are involved.[2,3]
3. Preoperative neoadjuvant radiation therapy or chemoradiation may be used to improve operability and even decrease the extent of surgery required.[4,5,6,7,8,9,10]
4. For the few patients unable to tolerate radical surgery or deemed unsuitable for surgery because of site or extent of disease, radical radiation therapy may be associated with long-term survival.[11,12] Some physicians prefer to add concurrent 5-FU or 5-FU and cisplatin.[1,13]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage III vulvar cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

1. Thomas GM, Dembo AJ, Bryson SC, et al.: Changing concepts in the management of vulvar cancer. Gynecol Oncol 42 (1): 9-21, 1991.
2. Kunos C, Simpkins F, Gibbons H, et al.: Radiation therapy compared with pelvic node resection for node-positive vulvar cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol 114 (3): 537-46, 2009.
3. Homesley HD, Bundy BN, Sedlis A, et al.: Prognostic factors for groin node metastasis in squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva (a Gynecologic Oncology Group study) Gynecol Oncol 49 (3): 279-83, 1993.
4. Boronow RC, Hickman BT, Reagan MT, et al.: Combined therapy as an alternative to exenteration for locally advanced vulvovaginal cancer. II. Results, complications, and dosimetric and surgical considerations. Am J Clin Oncol 10 (2): 171-81, 1987.
5. Anderson JM, Cassady JR, Shimm DS, et al.: Vulvar carcinoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 32 (5): 1351-7, 1995.
6. van Doorn HC, Ansink A, Verhaar-Langereis M, et al.: Neoadjuvant chemoradiation for advanced primary vulvar cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 3: CD003752, 2006.
7. Eifel PJ, Morris M, Burke TW, et al.: Prolonged continuous infusion cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil with radiation for locally advanced carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 59 (1): 51-6, 1995.
8. Landoni F, Maneo A, Zanetta G, et al.: Concurrent preoperative chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil and mitomycin C and radiotherapy (FUMIR) followed by limited surgery in locally advanced and recurrent vulvar carcinoma. Gynecol Oncol 61 (3): 321-7, 1996.
9. Montana GS, Thomas GM, Moore DH, et al.: Preoperative chemo-radiation for carcinoma of the vulva with N2/N3 nodes: a gynecologic oncology group study. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 48 (4): 1007-13, 2000.
10. Moore DH, Thomas GM, Montana GS, et al.: Preoperative chemoradiation for advanced vulvar cancer: a phase II study of the Gynecologic Oncology Group. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 42 (1): 79-85, 1998.
11. Perez CA, Grigsby PW, Galakatos A, et al.: Radiation therapy in management of carcinoma of the vulva with emphasis on conservation therapy. Cancer 71 (11): 3707-16, 1993.
12. Slevin NJ, Pointon RC: Radical radiotherapy for carcinoma of the vulva. Br J Radiol 62 (734): 145-7, 1989.
13. Eifel PJ, Berek JS, Markman MA: Cancer of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1311-44.

Stage IV Vulvar Cancer

(Refer to the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for a more detailed discussion of the roles of surgery, node dissection, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.)

Stage IVA

Standard treatment options:

1. Radical vulvectomy and pelvic exenteration.
2. Surgery followed by radiation therapy for large resected lesions with narrow margins. Localized adjuvant radiation therapy consisting of 45 Gy to 50 Gy may also be indicated when there is capillary-lymphatic space invasion and thickness greater than 5 mm.[1] Radiation therapy to the pelvis and groin is given if two or more groin nodes are involved.[2,3]
3. Neoadjuvant radiation therapy or chemoradiation of large primary lesions to improve operability, followed by radical surgery.[4,5,6,7,8,9,10]
4. For those patients unable to tolerate radical vulvectomy or who are deemed unsuitable for surgery because of site or extent of disease, radical radiation therapy may be associated with long-term survival.[11,12] When radiation therapy is used for primary definitive treatment of vulvar cancer, some physicians prefer to add concurrent 5-FU or 5-FU and cisplatin.[1,13,14,15,16,17]

Stage IVB

There is no standard treatment approach in the management of metastatic vulvar cancer. Local therapy must be individualized depending on the extent of local and metastatic disease. There is no standard chemotherapy for metastatic disease, and reports describing the use of this modality are anecdotal.[17] However, by largely extrapolating from regimens used for anal or cervical cancer, chemotherapy has been studied. Regimens have included various combinations of 5-fluoruracil, cisplatin, mitomycin-C, or bleomycin.[6,17,18] Given the advanced age and comorbidity of many patients with advanced or recurrent vulvar cancer, patient tolerance is a major consideration in the use of these agents. Physicians should offer eligible patients participation in clinical trials.

Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage IVA vulvar cancer and stage IVB vulvar cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

1. Thomas GM, Dembo AJ, Bryson SC, et al.: Changing concepts in the management of vulvar cancer. Gynecol Oncol 42 (1): 9-21, 1991.
2. Homesley HD, Bundy BN, Sedlis A, et al.: Radiation therapy versus pelvic node resection for carcinoma of the vulva with positive groin nodes. Obstet Gynecol 68 (6): 733-40, 1986.
3. Kunos C, Simpkins F, Gibbons H, et al.: Radiation therapy compared with pelvic node resection for node-positive vulvar cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol 114 (3): 537-46, 2009.
4. Boronow RC, Hickman BT, Reagan MT, et al.: Combined therapy as an alternative to exenteration for locally advanced vulvovaginal cancer. II. Results, complications, and dosimetric and surgical considerations. Am J Clin Oncol 10 (2): 171-81, 1987.
5. Anderson JM, Cassady JR, Shimm DS, et al.: Vulvar carcinoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 32 (5): 1351-7, 1995.
6. van Doorn HC, Ansink A, Verhaar-Langereis M, et al.: Neoadjuvant chemoradiation for advanced primary vulvar cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 3: CD003752, 2006.
7. Eifel PJ, Morris M, Burke TW, et al.: Prolonged continuous infusion cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil with radiation for locally advanced carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 59 (1): 51-6, 1995.
8. Landoni F, Maneo A, Zanetta G, et al.: Concurrent preoperative chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil and mitomycin C and radiotherapy (FUMIR) followed by limited surgery in locally advanced and recurrent vulvar carcinoma. Gynecol Oncol 61 (3): 321-7, 1996.
9. Montana GS, Thomas GM, Moore DH, et al.: Preoperative chemo-radiation for carcinoma of the vulva with N2/N3 nodes: a gynecologic oncology group study. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 48 (4): 1007-13, 2000.
10. Moore DH, Thomas GM, Montana GS, et al.: Preoperative chemoradiation for advanced vulvar cancer: a phase II study of the Gynecologic Oncology Group. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 42 (1): 79-85, 1998.
11. Slevin NJ, Pointon RC: Radical radiotherapy for carcinoma of the vulva. Br J Radiol 62 (734): 145-7, 1989.
12. Perez CA, Grigsby PW, Galakatos A, et al.: Radiation therapy in management of carcinoma of the vulva with emphasis on conservation therapy. Cancer 71 (11): 3707-16, 1993.
13. Russell AH, Mesic JB, Scudder SA, et al.: Synchronous radiation and cytotoxic chemotherapy for locally advanced or recurrent squamous cancer of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 47 (1): 14-20, 1992.
14. Berek JS, Heaps JM, Fu YS, et al.: Concurrent cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil chemotherapy and radiation therapy for advanced-stage squamous carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 42 (3): 197-201, 1991.
15. Koh WJ, Wallace HJ 3rd, Greer BE, et al.: Combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy in the management of local-regionally advanced vulvar cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 26 (5): 809-16, 1993.
16. Thomas G, Dembo A, DePetrillo A, et al.: Concurrent radiation and chemotherapy in vulvar carcinoma. Gynecol Oncol 34 (3): 263-7, 1989.
17. Eifel PJ, Berek JS, Markman MA: Cancer of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1311-44.
18. Cormio G, Loizzi V, Gissi F, et al.: Cisplatin and vinorelbine chemotherapy in recurrent vulvar carcinoma. Oncology 77 (5): 281-4, 2009.

Recurrent Vulvar Cancer

Treatment and outcome depend on the site and extent of recurrence.[1] Radical excision of localized recurrence may be considered if technically feasible.[2] Palliative radiation therapy is used for some patients. Radiation therapy with or without chemotherapy may be associated with substantial disease-free periods in some patients with a small local recurrence.[3,4,5] When local recurrence occurs more than 2 years after primary treatment, a combination of radiation therapy and surgery may result in a 5-year survival rate of greater than 50%.[6,7]

There is no standard treatment approach in the management of metastatic vulvar cancer. There is no standard chemotherapy, and reports describing the use of this modality are anecdotal.[8] However, by largely extrapolating from regimens used for anal or cervical cancer, chemotherapy has been used, but with no clear evidence of improvement in survival or palliation. Regimens have included various combinations of 5-fluoruracil, cisplatin, mitomycin-C, or bleomycin.[8,9] Given the advanced age and comorbidity of many patients with advanced or recurrent vulvar cancer, patient tolerance is a major consideration in the use of these agents. Physicians should offer eligible patients participation in clinical trials.

Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Standard treatment options:

1. Wide local excision with or without radiation in those patients with local recurrence.
2. Radical vulvectomy and pelvic exenteration in patients with local recurrence.
3. Synchronous radiation and cytotoxic chemotherapy with or without surgery.[4]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent vulvar cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References:

1. Piura B, Masotina A, Murdoch J, et al.: Recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva: a study of 73 cases. Gynecol Oncol 48 (2): 189-95, 1993.
2. Hopkins MP, Reid GC, Morley GW: The surgical management of recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Obstet Gynecol 75 (6): 1001-5, 1990.
3. Miyazawa K, Nori D, Hilaris BS, et al.: Role of radiation therapy in the treatment of advanced vulvar carcinoma. J Reprod Med 28 (8): 539-41, 1983.
4. Russell AH, Mesic JB, Scudder SA, et al.: Synchronous radiation and cytotoxic chemotherapy for locally advanced or recurrent squamous cancer of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 47 (1): 14-20, 1992.
5. Thomas G, Dembo A, DePetrillo A, et al.: Concurrent radiation and chemotherapy in vulvar carcinoma. Gynecol Oncol 34 (3): 263-7, 1989.
6. Podratz KC, Symmonds RE, Taylor WF, et al.: Carcinoma of the vulva: analysis of treatment and survival. Obstet Gynecol 61 (1): 63-74, 1983.
7. Shimm DS, Fuller AF, Orlow EL, et al.: Prognostic variables in the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 24 (3): 343-58, 1986.
8. Eifel PJ, Berek JS, Markman MA: Cancer of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1311-44.
9. van Doorn HC, Ansink A, Verhaar-Langereis M, et al.: Neoadjuvant chemoradiation for advanced primary vulvar cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 3: CD003752, 2006.

Changes to This Summary (11 / 09 / 2012)

The PDQ cancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.

This summary was comprehensively reviewed and extensively revised.

This summary is written and maintained by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of NCI. The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or NIH. More information about summary policies and the role of the PDQ Editorial Boards in maintaining the PDQ summaries can be found on the About This PDQ Summary and PDQ NCI's Comprehensive Cancer Database pages.

About This PDQ Summary

Purpose of This Summary

This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the treatment of vulvar cancer. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.

Reviewers and Updates

This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Board members review recently published articles each month to determine whether an article should:

  • be discussed at a meeting,
  • be cited with text, or
  • replace or update an existing article that is already cited.

Changes to the summaries are made through a consensus process in which Board members evaluate the strength of the evidence in the published articles and determine how the article should be included in the summary.

The lead reviewers for Vulvar Cancer Treatment are:

  • Leslie R. Boyd, MD (New York University Medical Center)
  • Franco M. Muggia, MD (New York University Medical Center)

Any comments or questions about the summary content should be submitted to Cancer.gov through the Web site's Contact Form. Do not contact the individual Board Members with questions or comments about the summaries. Board members will not respond to individual inquiries.

Levels of Evidence

Some of the reference citations in this summary are accompanied by a level-of-evidence designation. These designations are intended to help readers assess the strength of the evidence supporting the use of specific interventions or approaches. The PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board uses a formal evidence ranking system in developing its level-of-evidence designations.

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The preferred citation for this PDQ summary is:

National Cancer Institute: PDQ® Vulvar Cancer Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/vulvar/HealthProfessional. Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>.

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Last Revised: 2012-11-09

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