Prognosis for cancer of the vulva

Last Modified: January 9, 2005


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

I have recently had a biopsy for a lump on my vulva. It is strongly suspected that this is indeed cancer. What is the prognosis for this type of cancer? Is the only option surgery, and is it usually cured with surgical removal?



Christina S. Chu, MD, Assistant Professor of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

The prognosis for cancer of the vulva depends on how large the tumor is and whether or not it has spread to other areas of the body, like lymph nodes. The standard treatment usually involves a surgical excision of the primary tumor, possibly accompanied by sampling of the lymph nodes in one or both groins, depending on the size of the tumor, where on the vulva it is located, and how deeply it has invaded into the underlying tissue. After surgery, additional radiation therapy may be recommended if necessary. Patients with tumor confined to the vulva and no evidence of spread to the lymph nodes or other organs like the vagina, urethra or anus, typically can expect a very good rate of cure with treatment.