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Int J Womens Health. 2015 Mar 20;7:305-13. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S68979. eCollection 2015.

Vulvar cancer: epidemiology, clinical presentation, and management options.

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Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University Hospitals Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Kiel, Germany.
Institute for Pathology, University Hospitals Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Kiel, Germany.



Vulvar cancer can be classified into two groups according to predisposing factors: the first type correlates with a HPV infection and occurs mostly in younger patients. The second group is not HPV associated and occurs often in elderly women without neoplastic epithelial disorders.


Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common malignant tumor of the vulva (95%).


Pruritus is the most common and long-lasting reported symptom of vulvar cancer, followed by vulvar bleeding, discharge, dysuria, and pain.


The gold standard for even a small invasive carcinoma of the vulva was historically radical vulvectomy with removal of the tumor with a wide margin followed by an en bloc resection of the inguinal and often the pelvic lymph nodes. Currently, a more individualized and less radical treatment is suggested: a radical wide local excision is possible in the case of localized lesions (T1). A sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy may be performed to reduce wound complications and lymphedema.


The survival of patients with vulvar cancer is good when convenient therapy is arranged quickly after initial diagnosis. Inguinal and/or femoral node involvement is the most significant prognostic factor for survival.


HPV infection; groin dissection; overall survival; radical vulvectomy; sentinel lymph node biopsy; vulvar cancer

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