Vulvar Cancer

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Treating Vulvar Cancer TOPICS

How is vulvar cancer treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society's Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don't hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

General treatment information

After the stage of your vulvar cancer has been established, your cancer care team will recommend a treatment strategy. Think about your options without feeling rushed. If there is anything you do not understand, ask to have it explained again.

The choice of treatment depends largely on the stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis, but other factors can play a part in choosing the best treatment plan, such as your age, your general health, your individual circumstances, and your preferences. Be sure you understand all the risks and side effects of the various therapies before making a decision.

You may want to get a second opinion. This can provide more information and help you feel confident about the treatment plan you choose. Some insurance companies require a second opinion before they will pay for treatments.

Depending on the type and stage of your vulvar cancer, you may need more than one type of treatment. Doctors on your cancer treatment team may include:

  • A gynecologist: a doctor who specializes in diseases of the female reproductive tract
  • A gynecologic oncologist: a doctor who specializes in treating cancers of the female reproductive system (including surgery and chemotherapy)
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who uses chemotherapy and other medicines to treat cancer

Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including nurse practitioners, nurses, psychologists, social workers, rehabilitation specialists, and other health professionals.

The 3 main types of treatment used for patients with vulvar cancer are

Vulvar pre-cancers (vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia or VIN) can also be treated with topical therapy.

For information about some of the most common approaches used based on the type of vulvar cancer, see the sections “Treatment options for squamous cell vulvar cancer by stage,” “Treatment of vulvar adenocarcinoma,” and “Treatment of vulvar melanoma.”

It is important to discuss all of your treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs.

It’s also very important to ask questions if there is anything you’re not sure about. You can find some good questions to ask in the section “What should you ask your doctor about vulvar cancer?


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