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Am J Clin Oncol. 1993 Feb;16(1):38-42.

A retrospective review of nodal treatment for vulvar cancer.

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  • 1Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center, Madison 53792.


From 1983 to 1990, 42 clinical N0, N1 patients with invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva underwent surgery for the primary cancer, followed by nonrandomized assignment to either surgery or radiation therapy for nodal management. This is a retrospective analysis reviewing treatment outcome and complications of inguinofemoral dissection versus photon irradiation. Group I (N = 24) underwent either bilateral or unilateral inguinofemoral dissection; Group II (N = 18) underwent bilateral groin irradiation. The 3-year disease-free survival was 84.5% and 79.7% for Group I and II (p = 0.74). The nodal failure rate at 3 years was not significantly different. The postoperative complications in the surgically treated nodes were: 17% seromas, 46% wound infection, and 71% wound separation. Of those patients developing either an infection or wound separation, 41% required daily wound care for more than 2 weeks by a visiting nurse after discharge. Only 1 of 18 (6%) irradiated patients developed a clinically significant skin reaction. The median time for complete skin/wound healing was 8 weeks (range 4-24 weeks) in Group I and 2 weeks (range 2-6 weeks) in Group II. Late postoperative complications in the surgically treated patients included meralgia paresthetica (8%) and lymphedema (12%); 1 (6%) Group II patient developed lymphedema. Based on this limited retrospective review, we conclude that inguinofemoral radiation achieves reasonable local control and may represent an alternative to surgery in selected patients. The acute and delayed morbidity of lymphadenectomy exceeds that of irradiation.

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