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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An evaluation of prognostic factors, oncologic outcomes, and management for primary and recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva.



To evaluate prognostic factors, outcomes, and management patterns of patients treated for squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva.


One hundred sixty-four women were retrospectively identified with primary squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva treated at our institution between 1/1996-12/2018. Descriptive statistics were performed on patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics. The χ² tests and t-tests were used to compare categorical variables and continuous variables, respectively. Recurrence free survival (RFS), overall survival (OS), and disease-specific survival (DSS) were analyzed with Kaplan-Meier estimates, the log-rank test, and Cox proportional hazards.


Median follow-up was 52.5 months. Five-year RFS was 67.9%, 60.0%, 42.1%, and 20.0% for stage I-IV, respectively. Five-year DSS was 86.2%, 81.6%, 65.0%, and 42.9% for stage I-IV, respectively. On multivariate analysis, positive margins predicted overall RFS (hazard ratio [HR]=3.55; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.18-10.73; p=0.025), while presence of lichen sclerosus on pathology (HR=2.78; 95% CI=1.30-5.91; p=0.008) predicted local RFS. OS was predicted by nodal involvement (HR=2.51; 95% CI=1.02-6.13; p=0.043) and positive margins (HR=5.19; 95% CI=2.03-13.26; p=0.001). Adjuvant radiotherapy significantly improved RFS (p=0.016) and DSS (p=0.012) in node-positive patients. Median survival after treatment of local, groin, and pelvic/distant recurrence was 52, 8, and 5 months, respectively.


For primary treatment, more conservative surgical approaches can be considered with escalation of treatment in patients with concurrent precursor lesions, positive margins, and/or nodal involvement. Further studies are warranted to improve risk stratification in order to optimize treatment paradigms for vulvar cancer patients.

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