Treatment of vulvar melanoma
Treatment options depend on how deeply the melanoma has grown into the skin of the vulva. If the depth is less than 0.75 millimeter, partial vulvectomy removing 1 to 2 cm (up to about ¾ inch) of normal tissue (margins) is the usual treatment (see “Surgery for vulvar cancer”). If the cancer has grown in deeper, more tissue may need to be removed. Radical vulvectomy may rarely be used when the lesion extensively involves the vulva.
Often, lymph nodes in the groin will be sampled or a sentinel node biopsy procedure will be done to fully stage the cancer. The stage helps predict the outlook for survival and is needed to decide if other treatment is needed.
If the melanoma has spread outside the vulva, other treatments may be needed. These are discussed in Melanoma Skin Cancer.
More treatment information about vulvar cancer
For more details on treatment options -- including some that may not be addressed in this document -- the National Cancer Institute (NCI) can be a good source of information.
The NCI provides treatment guidelines via its telephone information center (1-800-4-CANCER) and its website (www.cancer.gov). Detailed guidelines intended for use by cancer care professionals are also available on www.cancer.gov.
Last Medical Review: 07/02/2014
Last Revised: 02/16/2016