How is vulvar cancer treated?
Every patient at Miami Cancer Institute receives a personalized treatment plan put together by our team of gynecologic oncologists.
Our philosophy is to find the plan that not only treats the cancer, but also fits you as a patient. Your team will consider the stage of disease, size and location of tumor and whether it has spread to other parts of your body. We will also work closely with experts in our next-generation genomic sequencing laboratory to help pinpoint your exact type of tumor and the most effective way to treat the cancer.
Surgery is often the first step to treating vulvar cancer. During surgery, doctors remove cancer and cancerous tissue while preserving as much of the vulva and vagina as possible.
Miami Cancer Institute also takes a multi-specialty approach to gynecologic surgeries, and your care team will collaborate with surgery specialists from different treatment areas to help create a comprehensive care plan for you.
Surgery to treat vulvar cancer may include:
- Laser surgery. This procedure uses a laser beam to make cuts in tissue or to remove a tumor.
- Wide local excision. During this procedure, surgeons remove the cancer and some surrounding tissue.
- Radical local excision. This procedure involves removing the cancer and large amounts of surrounding tissue. Surgeons may also remove lymph nodes and part of the groin.
- Ultrasound surgical aspiration. This procedure involves breaking up the tumor into tiny pieces by using small vibrations. Doctors wash away the small pieces of tumor or use a tool to suction out the pieces.
- Vulvectomy. During this procedure, surgeons remove part or all of the vulva.
- Pelvic exenteration. This is a radical procedure that is only used for women with advanced disease that has spread, and who have limited treatment options. During this procedure, surgeons remove all the reproductive organs. In some cases, surgeons may also remove the rectum, urethra and bladder. If you are undergoing pelvic exenteration, your care team will work with you on options to reconstruct any organs that are removed, so you can continue to maintain sexual function as well as bladder and bowel control.
In some cases, your care team may decide to combine surgery with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This will depend on many factors, including the location of your cancer, how aggressive it is, and whether it has spread to another part of the body.
If you have been diagnosed with pre-cancer of the vulva, your doctor may recommend a topical therapy. This treatment involves putting a chemotherapy cream or ointment directly on the cancer.
A multidisciplinary team of cancer experts including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, plastic reconstructive surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, genetic counselors, medical geneticists, social workers, patient navigators and clinical trials staff meet weekly to discuss select complex cases and determine the best course of care. Stem cell transplantation experts and hematologic oncology experts are also available to discuss complex cases.
Miami Cancer Institute can provide access to clinical trials not widely available elsewhere. Clinical trials find new ways to treat and diagnose cancer and are ongoing. If an appropriate trial is available, we will talk to you about the benefits and risks.
Patient Support Services
Taking care of the whole patient is an important component of providing personalized cancer care. Integrated into the fabric of the Miami Cancer Institute, the Cancer Patient Support Center addresses the psychological, physical, social and spiritual needs of our patients during cancer treatment and beyond.