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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1997 May 1;38(2):381-9.

Adjuvant radiation for vulvar carcinoma: improved local control.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Magee Women's Hospital, University of Pittsburgh Medical School, PA 15213, USA.



Local recurrence is a significant problem following primary surgery for advanced vulva carcinoma. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the impact of adjuvant vulvar radiation on local control in high risk patients and the impact of local recurrence on overall survival.


From 1980-1994, 62 patients with invasive vulva carcinoma and either positive or close (less 8 mm) margins of excision were retrospectively studied. Thirty-one patients were treated with adjuvant radiation therapy to the vulva and 31 patients were observed after surgery. Kaplan-Meier estimates and the Cox proportional hazard regression model were used to evaluate the effect of adjuvant radiation therapy on local recurrence and overall survival. Independent prognostic factors for local recurrence and survival were also assessed.


Local recurrence occurred in 58% of observed patients and 16% in patients treated with adjuvant radiation therapy. Adjuvant radiation therapy significantly reduced local recurrence rates in both the close margin and positive margin groups (p = 0.036, p = 0.0048). On both univariate and multivariate analysis adjuvant radiation and margins of excision were significant prognostic predictors for local control. Significant determinants of actuarial survival included International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (FIGO) stage, percentage of pathologically positive inguinal nodes and margins of excision. The positive margin observed group had a significantly poorer actuarial 5 year survival than the other groups (p = 0.0016) and adjuvant radiation significantly improved survival for this group. The 2 year actuarial survival after developing local recurrence was 25%. Local recurrence was a significant predictor for death from vulva carcinoma (risk ratio 3.54).


Local recurrence is a common occurrence in high risk patients. In this study adjuvant radiation therapy significantly reduced local recurrence rates and may improve overall survival in certain subgroups. As salvage rates after developing local recurrence are poor adjuvant vulvar radiation should be considered for patients at risk after primary surgery.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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