Benefits, harms, and/or costs
- 1Clinical trials have demonstrated the clinical efficacy of the human papillomavirus vaccine in reducing the burden of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia and, potentially, vulvar cancer (high).
- 2Early stage vulvar cancer is well managed with local surgical excision and assessment of inguinal lymph node status for those with International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics stage IB and resectable stage II tumours (high).
- 3The morbidity of inguinofemoral lymph node dissection for vulvar cancer can be significant and sentinel lymph node biopsy can reduce these complications (high).
- 4There is a detection rate for inguinofemoral sentinel lymph nodes of 87% per groin when using a combination of radioactive colloid and blue dye (moderate).
- 5Lateralized squamous cell cancer of the mid to posterior vulva (>1 cm from the midline) can forgo bilateral surgical assessment of clinically normal inguinofemoral lymph nodes (high).
- 6Adjuvant radiation treatment improves overall survival when given for inguinofemoral macrometastases (high) and close surgical margins for squamous cell cancer of the vulva (low).
- 7The addition of chemotherapy as a radiation sensitizer to radiation treatments may improve overall outcomes (low).
- 8Primary radiotherapy can be used when surgery is either not an option or would cause extreme morbidity (moderate).
- 9There is a paucity of data for the systemic treatment of surgically unresectable squamous cell cancer of the vulva, advanced disease with distant metastases, or recurrent disease previously treated with surgery, and/or radiation with or without chemotherapy, but platinum-based therapies currently demonstrate the greatest activity available (low).
- 10Squamous cell cancers of the vulva have a high recurrence rate due to their association with human papillomavirus and skin dysplasia (high).
- 11Vulvar squamous cell cancer with nodal recurrence is typically fatal and its treatment should be individualized and guided by the size of disease and previous treatment (low).
- 1Any worrisome vulvar lesion should be referred to an appropriate clinician for vulvar biopsy. Punch biopsies of adequate size (at least 4 mm wide) and depth (to subcutaneous fat) are most likely to achieve pathologic diagnosis (strong, high).
- 2Once vulvar squamous cell cancer is diagnosed, a referral should be made to a gynaecologic oncologist (strong, high).
- 3Clinicians should strongly recommend the human papillomavirus vaccine for all females 9 to 45 years of age to reduce the burden of all human papillomavirus–related diseases (strong, high).
- 4Inguinal sentinel lymph node mapping for surgical staging of vulvar cancer is appropriate for unifocal tumours, <4 cm in widest diameter, of squamous cell histology, and where lymph nodes are not clinically suspicious (strong, high).
- 5Surgeons developing skills in sentinel lymph node mapping for vulvar cancer staging should perform a minimum of 10 correlated cases of sentinel lymph node biopsy with subsequent complete inguinofemoral lymph node dissection prior to sentinel node mapping alone to reduce false-negative rates (strong, high).
- 6Adjuvant radiation, including both inguinal and pelvic fields, should be given for any inguinofemoral lymph node macrometastasis (≥5 mm), 2 or more micrometastases (<5 mm), or extracapsular spread (strong, high).
- 7We suggest that adjuvant radiotherapy should be given for close (≤10 mm on fresh and ≤8 mm on fixed pathologic specimens) and positive surgical margins for squamous cell cancer of the vulva if surgical re-excision is not feasible or has potential for high surgical morbidity (weak, low).
- 8The addition of radiosensitizing chemotherapy to adjuvant radiation may be beneficial; however, the evidence is extrapolation from cervical and anal canal cancer protocols (weak, low).
- 9Chemotherapy should be considered as a radiosensitizer in primary radiation treatment (weak, low).
- 10Primary radiotherapy should be given to patients who are not candidates for radical surgery, or where surgery would compromise the function of an organ (i.e., urethra, anus) (strong, moderate).
- 11Patients with extensive vulvar squamous cell cancer that would require primary exenterative procedures for surgical removal should be assessed in a multidisciplinary setting with surgical and radiation teams for consideration of primary chemoradiation. When surgery is the preferred primary treatment for locally advanced squamous cell cancer of the vulva, a comprehensive approach is recommended for optimal results, including specialized surgical teams, which may include gynaecologic oncology, general surgery, plastic surgery, and urology (strong, high).
- 12There is currently insufficient evidence to offer recommendations for a specific systemic chemotherapy combination, duration, or method of delivery for the treatment of squamous cell cancer of the vulva (weak, low).
- 13There is a need for large cooperative group trials to determine the best treatment for women requiring systemic chemotherapy for squamous cell cancer of the vulva (strong, high).
- 14All women previously treated for vulvar cancer benefit from long-term follow-up provided by an experienced health care provider able to detect any recurrence or second gynaecologic malignancy (weak, low).
Abbreviations:FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics), GROINNSS-V (GROningen INternational Study on Sentinel nodes in Vulvar cancer), HPV (human papillomavirus), IFLD (inguinofemoral lymph node dissection), OS (overall survival), SCC (squamous cell cancer), SLNB (sentinel lymph node biopsy)
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This document reflects emerging clinical and scientific advances on the date issued and is subject to change. The information should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed. Local institutions can dictate amendments to these opinions. They should be well documented if modified at the local level. None of these contents may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission of the publisher.
All people have the right and responsibility to make informed decisions about their care in partnership with their health care providers. In order to facilitate informed choice, patients should be provided with information and support that is evidence-based, culturally appropriate and tailored to their needs.
This guideline was written using language that places women at the centre of care. That said, the SOGC is committed to respecting the rights of all people - including transgender, gender non-binary, and intersex people - for whom the guideline may apply. We encourage healthcare providers to engage in respectful conversation with patients regarding their gender identity as a critical part of providing safe and appropriate care. The values, beliefs and individual needs of each patient and their family should be sought and the final decision about the care and treatment options chosen by the patient should be respected.