Vulvar Cancer

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Survival by stage of vulvar cancer

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person's prognosis (outlook). Some patients with cancer may want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you decide that you don’t want to know them, stop reading here and skip to the next section.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Five-year survival rates are used to produce a standard way of discussing prognosis. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years.

Relative survival rates assume that people will die of other causes and compare the observed survival with that expected for people without vulvar cancer. This is a more accurate way to describe the outlook for patients with a particular type and stage of cancer.

Keep in mind that 5-year survival rates are based on patients diagnosed and initially treated more than 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment often result in a more favorable outlook for women more recently diagnosed with vulvar cancer

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen in any particular person's case. Many other factors may affect a person's outlook, such as the type of vulvar cancer, the patient’s age and general health, the treatment received, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Your doctor can tell you how the numbers below may apply to you and your particular situation.

The numbers below come from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER program. SEER does not list survival rates by FIGO (or AJCC) stage. Instead, it divides patients into 3 summary stages:

  • Local: The cancer is only in the vulva, without spread to lymph nodes or nearby tissues. This is like stages I and II.
  • Regional:The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissues, but hasn’t spread to distant organs. This is like stages III and IVA
  • Distant: The cancer has spread to distant organs or tissues. This is like stage IVB.

Stage

Relative
5-Year Survival Rate

    Local

    86%

    Regional

    54%

    Distant

    16%


Last Medical Review: 07/02/2014
Last Revised: 07/17/2014