Survival Rates for Vulvar Cancer

Survival rates can give you an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time (usually 5 years) after they were diagnosed. They can’t tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding of how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.

Keep in mind that survival rates are estimates and are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific cancer, but they can’t predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. These statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk with your doctor about how these numbers may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with your situation.

What is a 5-year relative survival rate?

A relative survival rate compares women with the same type and stage of vulvar cancer to people in the overall population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of vulvar cancer is 90%, it means that women who have that cancer are, on average, about 90% as likely as women who don’t have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.

Where do these numbers come from?

The American Cancer Society relies on information from the SEER* database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.

The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for vulvar cancer in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group cancers by AJCC TNM stages (stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, etc.). Instead, it groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages:

  • Localized: The cancer is only in the vulva, without spread to lymph nodes or nearby tissues. This includes stage I cancers.
  • Regional: The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissues, but hasn’t spread to distant organs. This includes mainly stage II, III and IVA cancers.
  • Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body such as the lungs, liver or bones. This includes stage IVB cancers.

5-year relative survival rates for vulvar cancer

(Based on women diagnosed with vulvar cancer between 2008 and 2014.)

SEER Stage

5-Year Relative Survival Rate

Localized

86%

Regional

53%

Distant

19%

All SEER stages combined 71%

Understanding the numbers

  • Women now being diagnosed with vulvar cancer may have a better outlook than these numbers show. Treatments improve over time, and these numbers are based on people who were diagnosed and treated at least five years earlier.
  • These numbers apply only to the stage of the cancer when it is first diagnosed. They do not apply later on if the cancer grows, spreads, or comes back after treatment.
  • These numbers don’t take everything into account. Survival rates are grouped based on how far the cancer has spread, but your age, overall health, how well the cancer responds to treatment, and other factors will also affect your outlook.

*SEER= Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results

 

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Noone AM, Howlader N, Krapcho M, Miller D, Brest A, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2015, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2015/, based on November 2017 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2018.

Last Medical Review: December 20, 2017 Last Revised: February 4, 2019

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