Vulvar cancer is a rare gynecologic cancer (fourth most common following cancer of the uterine corpus, ovary and cervix). It develops gradually from a precancerous condition called vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) or dysplasia. The precancerous change (VIN) takes years to progress to vulvar cancer.
Primary vulvar cancer: If the cancer is not treated, it will continue to grow. Vulva cancer survival rateis influenced by the age of the patients i.e. the survival rate decreases with the increase in age of the victim at diagnosis. According to a research, the five-year relative survival rate according to age is as follows:
On an average, the five year survival rate of vulvar cancer is about 70 percent. In the early stages of cancer, the survival rate is about 98%, which decreases to about 31% in patients in an advanced stage of cancer (stage IV). Depending on each stage, the 5-year survival rates are as follows:
Recurrent vulvar cancer: A cancer, which recurs (comes back) after it has been treated is known as recurrent cancer. Recurrence of vulvar cancer can be local, inguinal or metastatic (at a distant site). Local cancer can be cured in about 60% of the affected patients, but if there has been a distant recurrence, the cure rate decreases to about 15%. Treatment options for recurrent cancer include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Your doctor will discuss with you and decide on a treatment that is best for you. Therefore, all vulvar cancer survivors should have regular follow-ups (twice yearly gynecologic examination). As recurrence can occur even years after the treatment of primary cancer, long-term follow-up for cancer survivors is recommended.