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Vulvar Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)

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.[4-10]
  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.[1,13-17]

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-fluorouracil, 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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Anderson JM, Cassady JR, Shimm DS, et al.: Vulvar carcinoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 32 (5): 1351-7, 1995. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  11. Slevin NJ, Pointon RC: Radical radiotherapy for carcinoma of the vulva. Br J Radiol 62 (734): 145-7, 1989. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  16. Thomas G, Dembo A, DePetrillo A, et al.: Concurrent radiation and chemotherapy in vulvar carcinoma. Gynecol Oncol 34 (3): 263-7, 1989. [PUBMED Abstract]
  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. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: March 12, 2014