Treatment of Inoperable Vulvar Cancer: Where We Come From and Where Are We Going

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Abstract

Vulvar cancer is a rare disease affecting elderly women that is commonly treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. When tumors compromise the urethra and the anus, or when it is in the groin lymph nodes, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or both are necessary after surgery.

The treatment of locally advanced vulvar cancer has suffered significant changes though the recent decades. So far, the best sequence of treatment is not known: surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy. The radical surgeries usually need a long recovery term both in the region of the vulva and in the area of the groin lymph nodes. When it is performed, convalescence can delay other treatments, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. On the other hand, the use of radiotherapy and chemotherapy as a first step treatment can result in a complete elimination of the disease in at least 30% of the cases or substantial reduction of its size, allowing less extensive surgery. Therefore, the historical evolution of locally advanced vulvar cancer is reviewed.

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