Vulvar cancer: surgical management and survival trends in a low resource setting

This study aims to analyze risk factors, clinical profiles, treatment protocols, and disease outcomes in histologically proven resectable vulvar cancer (VC) patients according to tumor stage. This is a retrospective analysis of a prospectively collected database of 20 VC patients from May 2014 to June 2019.

The mean age of VC diagnosis was 55 years, with a range of 38–84 years. The incidence was four cases per year. The disease incidence was significantly more in post-menopausal (65%) and multiparous (90%) women. According to FIGO staging of vulvar cancer, stages I, II, and III were assigned to 6, 1, and 11 patients respectively. Two patients suffered from stage IVa vulvar melanoma. All patients had undergone surgical interventions. Patients treated with only nonsurgical (chemotherapy/radiotherapy/chemo-radiotherapy) treatment modalities were excluded from the study. Fifteen patients were treated with wide local excision (WLE), bilateral inguinofemoral dissection (B/L IFLND), and primary repair. Four and one patients were treated with radical vulvectomy (RV) and modified radical vulvectomy (MRV) [with or without B/L IFLND and PLND] respectively. Reconstruction with V-Y gracilis myocutaneous and local rotation advancement V-Y fasciocutaneous flaps were done in two patients. Therapeutic groin nodal dissection was performed in 19 patients except in one patient who was treated by palliative radical vulvectomy. In the final histopathology reports, tumor size varies from 0.5 to 6.5 cm (mean 3.35 cm) with the predominance of squamous cell carcinoma (18 out of 20 patients). Only 10 out of 18 eligible patients received adjuvant treatment. Poor patient compliance has been one of the major reasons for adjuvant treatment attrition rate. Systemic and loco-regional metastasis occurred in 3 patients each arm respectively. Poor follow up of patients is the key limitation of our study.

Vulvar cancer incidence was significantly high in post-menopausal and multiparous women. The most important prognostic factors were tumor stage and lymph node status. Oncological resection should be equated with functional outcome. The multidisciplinary team approach should be sought for this rare gynecological malignancy.