Vulvar Cancer: Treatment

Your treatment plan should be personalized to your overall medical health, the location, size and stage of the cancer.  Here at Columbia, a multi-disciplinary team of specialized doctors and support staff specially trained in caring for women with vulvar cancer will provide you with the best care.  Our goal is to personalize your care to include the most advanced treatments with the least harmful impact on your body.  

Your doctor will discuss these options, and recommend a plan that will best treat the cancer, but preserve as much quality of life and lower toxicity as possible.  While vulvar cancer treatment usually involve surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy may be given either before or after the surgery to optimally treat the disease.

Surgery

Surgery for vulvar cancer can be delicate or complex, and is performed by a Gynecologic Oncologist at Columbia’s Cancer Center with experience in these procedures.  The main types of surgery includes:

  • Excision:  removing the cancer locally on the vulvar.
  • Vulvectomy:  removing all or part of the vulvar.
  • Pelvic Exenteration:  a complex procedure that removes the vulvar, vagina, nearby lymph nodes, and may involve removing the rectum, bladder, uterus, cervix, vagina depending upon how far the cancer has spread.  Separate reconstructive procedures that can allow for urine and stools to pass are performed at the same time.
  • Inguinal lymph node dissection:  removal of groin lymph nodes
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs that may be given alone, or with radiation either before the surgery to shrink the tumor, or after surgery to eradicate microscopic cancer cells.  Your team at Columbia offers state of the art chemotherapy options as well as specially trained support staff to promote quality of life care while undergoing adjuvant treatments.  

Radiation Therapy

With advanced radiation therapy techniques doctors can better target tumors while reducing the radiation to nearby healthy tissues. Here at HICCC our radiation oncology experts have the ability to provide “state of the art” treatments for your disease.

Your radiation oncologist will design the optimal treatment plan for you with you that will provide you the best optimal results. Treatment delivery can be daily, weekly, every other day, and or single fraction.

If radiation treatment is recommended, a radiation oncologist will work with our radiation oncology team to create a course of treatment. At Columbia University Irving Medical Center treatment modalities available and most commonly used for this cancer are External Beam Radiation Therapy, 3D Conformal Radiotherapy, Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT).