Vulvar Cancer Survival Rates

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 your situation.

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

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

Stage

Relative
5-Year Survival Rate

Local

86%

Regional

54%

Distant

16%

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Miller D, Bishop K, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2014, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2014/, based on November 2016 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2017.

SEER Cancer Stat Facts: Vulvar Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/vulva.html

Last Medical Review: December 20, 2017 Last Revised: December 20, 2017

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