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Vulvar cancer refers to cancer of the external female genital organs, including the clitoris, vaginal lips, and the opening to the vagina. Learn about vulvar cancer and find information on how we support and care for women with vulvar cancer before, during, and after treatment.
For a rare disease such as vulvar cancer, experience matters. At the Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers Gynecologic Oncology Program, we have a team of experienced gynecologic cancer specialists that works together to provide comprehensive and compassionate care for patients. We are passionately committed to providing every patient with the best and most personalized treatment options available, taking advantage of the full range of resources and services of a top-ranked cancer hospital and research center.
Exceptional Care for Patients with Vulvar Cancer — You Have...
A team of gynecologic oncology specialists who diagnose and treat dozens of patients with vulvar cancer, and who are setting treatment guidelines for other physicians around the world.
Minimally-invasive surgical techniques, including laser surgery and sentinel lymph node evaluation, that preserve healthy tissue, reduce recovery time, and minimize surgical risk.
Clinical trials for vulvar cancer, which may not be available elsewhere.
Pioneering research, including a recent clinical trial that found that the drug Tarceva temporarily stalled or reversed the growth of squamous cell vulvar cancers in some women with the disease. The trial marked the first time a targeted therapy has been tested in patients with vulvar cancer.
Our physicians are evaluating novel, targeted therapies and:
Are among few in the nation to offer 3D image-guided brachytherapy.
Were the first to publish excellent clinical outcomes of the use of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy with dose constraints to protect surrounding tissue.
We offer specialized care for women with sexual health or fertility concerns, and access to a wide array of support services and survivorship care.
We offer many programs to support our patients and their families before, during, and after treatment, including:
If you have never been seen before at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, please call 877-442-3324 or use this online form to make an appointment.
If you need to schedule a follow-up appointment or for other questions, you’ll find your clinician’s contact information here.
Vulvar cancer forms in a woman's external genitalia. The vulva includes:
Vulvar cancer most often affects the outer vaginal lips. Less often, cancer affects the inner vaginal lips, clitoris, or vaginal glands.
Vulvar cancer usually forms slowly over a number of years. Abnormalcells can grow on the surface of the vulvar skin for a long time. This condition is called vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN). Because it is possible for VIN to become vulvar cancer, it is very important to get treatment.
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for vulvar cancer include the following:
Other possible risk factors include the following:
Vulvar cancer often does not cause early signs or symptoms. Signs and symptoms may be caused by vulvar cancer or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:
The following tests and procedures may be used:
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the vulva or to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process:
Cancer can spread through tissue, the lymph system, and the blood:
When cancer spreads to another part of the body, it is called metastasis. Cancer cells break away from where they began (the primary tumor) and travel through the lymph system or blood.
The metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if vulvar cancer spreads to the lung, the cancer cells in the lung are actually vulvar cancer cells. The disease is metastatic vulvar cancer, not lung cancer.
These abnormalcells are not cancer. Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) may become cancer and spread into nearby tissue. VIN is sometimes called stage 0 or carcinoma in situ.
In stage I, cancer has formed. The tumor is found only in the vulva or perineum (area between the rectum and the vagina). Stage I is divided into stages IA and IB.
In stage II, the tumor is any size and has spread into the lower part of the urethra, the lower part of the vagina, or the anus. Cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes.
In stage III, the tumor is any size and may have spread into the lower part of the urethra, the lower part of the vagina, or the anus. Cancer has spread to one or more nearby lymph nodes. Stage III is divided into stages IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC.
In stage IV, the tumor has spread into the upper part of the urethra, the upper part of the vagina, or to other parts of the body. Stage IV is divided into stages IVA and IVB.
Recurrentvulvar cancer is cancer that has recurred (come back) after it has been treated. The cancer may come back in the vulva or in other parts of the body.
Different types of treatments are available for patients with vulvar cancer. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.
Surgery is the most common treatment for vulvar cancer. The goal of surgery is to remove all the cancer without any loss of the woman's sexual function. One of the following types of surgery may be done:
Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, some patients may have chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left. Treatment given after the surgery, to lower the risk that the cancer will come back, is called adjuvant therapy.
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ, a body cavity such as the abdomen, or onto the skin, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Topical chemotherapy for vulvar cancer may be applied to the skin in a cream or lotion.
See Drugs Approved to Treat Vulvar Cancer for more information.
Biologic therapy is a treatment that uses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body’s natural defenses against cancer. This type of cancer treatment is also called biotherapy or immunotherapy.
Imiquimod is a biologic therapy that may be used to treat vulvar lesions and is applied to the skin in a cream.
Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.
Many of today's standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. Patients who take part in a clinical trial may receive the standard treatment or be among the first to receive a new treatment.
Patients who take part in clinical trials also help improve the way cancer will be treated in the future. Even when clinical trials do not lead to effective new treatments, they often answer important questions and help move research forward.
Some clinical trials only include patients who have not yet received treatment. Other trials test treatments for patients whose cancer has not gotten better. There are also clinical trials that test new ways to stop cancer from recurring (coming back) or reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.
Clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. See the Treatment Options section that follows for links to current treatment clinical trials. These have been retrieved from NCI's listing of clinical trials.
Some of the tests that were done to diagnose the cancer or to find out the stage of the cancer may be repeated. Some tests will be repeated in order to see how well the treatment is working. Decisions about whether to continue, change, or stop treatment may be based on the results of these tests. This is sometimes called re-staging.
Some of the tests will continue to be done from time to time after treatment has ended. The results of these tests can show if your condition has changed or if the cancer has recurred (come back). These tests are sometimes called follow-up tests or check-ups.
It is important to have regular follow-up exams to check for recurrentvulvar cancer.
Treatment of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) may include the following:
Treatment of stage I vulvar cancer may include the following:
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I vulvar cancer. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your doctor about clinical trials that may be right for you. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Treatment of stage II vulvar cancer may include the following:
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage II vulvar cancer. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your doctor about clinical trials that may be right for you. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Treatment of stage III vulvar cancer may include the following:
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage III vulvar cancer. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your doctor about clinical trials that may be right for you. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Treatment of stage IVA vulvar cancer may include the following:
There is no standard treatment for stage IVB vulvar cancer. Treatment may include a clinical trial of a new treatment.
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage IVB vulvar cancer. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your doctor about clinical trials that may be right for you. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Treatment of recurrentvulvar cancer may include the following:
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent vulvar cancer. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your doctor about clinical trials that may be right for you. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
For more information from the National Cancer Institute about vulvar cancer, see the following:
For general cancer information and other resources from the National Cancer Institute, see the following:
This information is provided by the National Cancer Institute.
This information was last updated on July 23, 2014.
Vulvar cancer accounts for about 5% of cancers of the female genital system in the United States.
Estimated new cases and deaths from vulvar cancer in the United States in 2014:
The vulva is the area immediately external to the vagina, including the mons pubis, labia, clitoris, Bartholin glands, and perineum. The labia majora are the most common site of vulvar carcinoma involvement and account for about 50% of cases. The labia minora account for 15% to 20% of vulvar carcinoma cases. The clitoris and Bartholin glands are less frequently involved. Lesions are multifocal in about 5% of cases. About 90% of vulvar carcinomas are squamous cell cancers. This evidence summary covers squamous cell cancers and vulvar intraepithelial neoplasias (VIN), some of which are thought to be precursors to invasive squamous cell cancers.
dependent on the pathologic status of the inguinal nodes and whether spread to adjacent structures has occurred. The size of the primary tumor is less important in defining prognosis. In patients with operable disease without nodal involvement, the overall survival (OS) rate is 90%; however,
in patients with nodal involvement, the 5-year OS rate is approximately 50%
Risk factors for lymph node metastasis include the following:
Overall, about 30% of
patients with operable disease have lymph nodal spread.
In many cases, the development of vulvar cancer is preceded by condyloma or
squamous dysplasia. The prevailing evidence favors human papillomavirus (HPV)
as a causative factor in many genital tract carcinomas. The HPV-related basaloid and warty types are associated with VIN. About 75% to 100% of basaloid and warty carcinomas harbor HPV infection. In addition to the much higher prevalence of HPV in these subtypes than in the keratinizing subtypes, the basaloid and warty subtypes also share many common risk factors with cervical cancers, including multiplicity of sex partners, early age at initiation of sexual intercourse, and history of abnormal Pap smears. HPV-associated VIN (termed usual-type VIN when high-grade 2 and 3) is most common in women younger than 50 years, whereas non-HPV VIN (termed differentiated-type VIN when high-grade 3) is most common in older women. The former lesion-type VIN grade 1 is no longer classified as a true VIN.
The pattern of spread is influenced by the histology. Well-differentiated
lesions tend to spread along the surface with minimal invasion, whereas
anaplastic lesions are more likely to be deeply invasive. Spread beyond the
vulva is either to adjacent organs such as the vagina, urethra, and anus, or
via the lymphatics to the inguinal and femoral lymph nodes, followed by the deep
pelvic nodes. Hematogenous spread appears to be uncommon.
American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2014. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2014. Available online. Last accessed May 21, 2014.
Macnab JC, Walkinshaw SA, Cordiner JW, et al.: Human papillomavirus in clinically and histologically normal tissue of patients with genital cancer. N Engl J Med 315 (17): 1052-8, 1986.
Eifel PJ, Berek JS, Markman MA: Cancer of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 1311-44.
Vulva. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 379-81.
Homesley HD, Bundy BN, Sedlis A, et al.: Assessment of current International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics staging of vulvar carcinoma relative to prognostic factors for survival (a Gynecologic Oncology Group study). Am J Obstet Gynecol 164 (4): 997-1003; discussion 1003-4, 1991.
Boyce J, Fruchter RG, Kasambilides E, et al.: Prognostic factors in carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 20 (3): 364-77, 1985.
Sedlis A, Homesley H, Bundy BN, et al.: Positive groin lymph nodes in superficial squamous cell vulvar cancer. A Gynecologic Oncology Group Study. Am J Obstet Gynecol 156 (5): 1159-64, 1987.
Binder SW, Huang I, Fu YS, et al.: Risk factors for the development of lymph node metastasis in vulvar squamous cell carcinoma. Gynecol Oncol 37 (1): 9-16, 1990.
Homesley HD, Bundy BN, Sedlis A, et al.: Prognostic factors for groin node metastasis in squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva (a Gynecologic Oncology Group study) Gynecol Oncol 49 (3): 279-83, 1993.
Hampl M, Sarajuuri H, Wentzensen N, et al.: Effect of human papillomavirus vaccines on vulvar, vaginal, and anal intraepithelial lesions and vulvar cancer. Obstet Gynecol 108 (6): 1361-8, 2006.
Schiffman M, Kjaer SK: Chapter 2: Natural history of anogenital human papillomavirus infection and neoplasia. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr (31): 14-9, 2003.
Pepas L, Kaushik S, Bryant A, et al.: Medical interventions for high grade vulval intraepithelial neoplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (4): CD007924, 2011.
Sideri M, Jones RW, Wilkinson EJ, et al.: Squamous vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia: 2004 modified terminology, ISSVD Vulvar Oncology Subcommittee. J Reprod Med 50 (11): 807-10, 2005.
Presented below is an adaptation of the histologic classification of vulvar
disease and precursor lesions of cancer of the vulva developed by the
International Society for the Study of Vulvar Disease. This evidence summary deals with vulvar intraepithelial neoplasias (VIN) and invasive carcinomas.
The diagnosis of vulvar cancer is made by biopsy. The patient may be examined under anesthesia. Cystoscopy,
proctoscopy, x-ray examination of the lungs, and intravenous urography (as
needed), are used for staging purposes. Suspected bladder or rectal involvement
must be confirmed by biopsy.
The staging system does not apply to malignant melanoma of the vulva, which is staged like melanoma of the skin.
The Fédération Internationale de Gynécologie et
d’Obstétrique (FIGO) and the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) have designated staging to define vulvar cancer; the FIGO system is most commonly used. Stage is based upon pathology staging at the time of surgery or prior to any radiation or chemotherapy, if they are the initial treatment modalities.
Tumor confined to the vulva.
Lesions ≤2 cm in size, confined to the vulva or perineum and with stromal invasion ≤1.0 mmb, no nodal metastasis.
Lesions >2 cm in size or with stromal invasion >1.0 mmb, confined to the vulva or perineum, with negative nodes.
Tumor of any size with extension to adjacent perineal structures (1/3 lower urethra, 1/3 lower vagina, anus) with negative nodes.
Tumor of any size with or without extension to adjacent perineal structures (1/3 lower urethra, 1/3 lower vagina, anus) with positive inguino-femoral lymph nodes.
(i) With 1 lymph node metastasis (≥5 mm), or
(ii) 1–2 lymph node metastasis(es) (<5 mm).
(i) With 2 or more lymph node metastases (≥5 mm), or
(ii) 3 or more lymph node metastases (<5 mm).
With positive nodes with extracapsular spread.
Tumor invades other regional (2/3 upper urethra, 2/3 upper vagina), or distant structures.
Tumor invades any of the following:
(i) upper urethral and/or vaginal mucosa, bladder mucosa, rectal mucosa, or fixed to pelvic bone, or
(ii) fixed or ulcerated inguino-femoral lymph nodes.
Any distant metastasis including pelvic lymph nodes.
aAdapted from FIGO Committee on Gynecologic Oncology.
bThe depth of invasion is defined as the measurement of the tumor from the epithelial-stromal junction of the adjacent most superficial dermal papilla to the deepest point of invasion.
Grade is reported in registry systems. A two-, three-, or four-grade system may be used. If not specified, the following system is generally used:
Pecorelli S: Revised FIGO staging for carcinoma of the vulva, cervix, and endometrium. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 105 (2): 103-4, 2009.
Hopkins MP, Reid GC, Johnston CM, et al.: A comparison of staging systems for squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 47 (1): 34-7, 1992.
Standard primary treatment for vulvar cancer is surgery. Radiation is usually added to surgery in patients with stage III or IV disease. Newer strategies have integrated surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy and tailor the treatment to the extent of clinical and pathologic disease. Patterns of practice in combining these treatments vary.
Since invasive and preinvasive neoplasms of the vulva may be HPV-induced and the carcinogenic effect may be widespread in the vulvar epithelium, patients should be followed regularly for symptoms or signs of recurrence. Because there are few patients with advanced disease (stages III and IV), only limited data are available on treatment efficacy in this setting, and there is no standard chemotherapy regimen for these patients. Physicians should offer eligible patients with stage III or IV disease participation in clinical trials.
Information about ongoing clinical trials is available on the NCI Web site.
Until the 1980s, the standard therapeutic approach to therapy for invasive locoregional vulvar carcinomas was radical surgery, including complete en bloc resection of the vulva and regional lymph nodes. Because of the high attendant complication rates, wound healing problems, lymphedema, and functional deficits, the trend since then has been toward more limited surgery, often combined with radiation therapy. (Refer to the Role of Radiation Therapy section of this summary for more information.)
In tumors clinically confined to the vulva or perineum, radical local excision with a margin of at least 1 cm has generally replaced radical vulvectomy; separate incision has replaced en bloc inguinal node dissection; ipsilateral inguinal node dissection has replaced bilateral dissection for laterally localized tumors; and femoral lymph node dissection has been omitted in many cases. However, the different surgical techniques have not been directly compared in randomized controlled trials. In addition, even the nonrandomized studies suffer from lack of uniform staging definitions and clear descriptions of lymph node dissection or ancillary radiation.[Levels of evidence: 3iiiDii, 3iiiDiv] The evidence base is therefore limited.
Another strategy to minimize the morbidity incurred by groin-node dissection in patients with early clinical-stage disease is sentinel node dissection, reserving groin dissection for those with metastases to the sentinel node(s).
In a multicenter case series, 403 patients with primary vulvar squamous cell cancers smaller than 4 cm and clinically negative groin nodes underwent 623 sentinel node dissections using radioactive tracer and blue dye for sentinel node identification. All patients had radical resection of the primary tumor. Node metastases were identified in 26% of sentinel node procedures, and these patients went on to full inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy. The patients with negative sentinel nodes were followed with no further therapy.
Local morbidity was much lower in patients who underwent sentinel node dissection than in patients with positive sentinel nodes who also underwent inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy (wound breakdown 11.7% vs. 34.0%; cellulitis 4.5% vs. 21.3%; chronic lymphedema 1.9% vs. 25.2%, respectively) (P < .0001 for all comparisons). Mean hospital stay was also shorter (8.4 vs. 13.7 days) (P < .0001). After two local recurrences in 17 patients with multifocal primary tumors, the protocol was amended to only allow patients with unifocal tumors into the study. Actuarial groin recurrence for all patients with negative sentinel node dissections at 2 years was 3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 1%–6%) and 2% (95% CI, 1%–5%) for those with unifocal primary tumors.[Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]
Therefore, sentinel node dissection may be useful when performed by a surgeon experienced in the procedure, and it may avoid the need for full groin node dissection or radiation in patients with clinically nonsuspicious lymph nodes. (Refer to the Role of Radiation Therapy section of this summary for more information.)
Groin lymph node metastases are present in approximately 20% to 35% of patients with tumors clinically confined to the vulva and with clinically negative nodes. Lymph node dissection is traditionally part of the primary surgical therapy in all but the smallest tumors. However, a major cause of morbidity after surgery is groin node dissection, which is associated with high rates of wound breakdown, lymphocele formation, and chronic lymphedema. Some investigators recommend radiation therapy as a means to avoid the morbidity of lymph node dissection, but it is not clear whether radiation therapy can achieve the same local control rates or survival rates as lymph node dissection in early stage disease.
A randomized trial to address the radiation therapy issue in patients with clinically localized vulvar cancer has been reported. In that study, women with disease clinically confined to the vulva, who did not have groin lymph nodes clinically suspicious for metastases, underwent radical vulvectomy followed by either groin radiation (50 Gy in 2 Gy fractions) or groin dissection (plus groin radiation if nodes were pathologically involved).
Although the planned accrual was 300 patients, the study was stopped after 58 women were randomly assigned to it because of worse outcomes in the radiation therapy arm. Five (18.5%) of 27 women in the radiation therapy arm and 0 of 25 women in the surgery arm had a groin recurrence, but this difference was not statistically significant (relative risk [RR], 10.21; 95% CI, 0.59–175.78). There were ten deaths in the radiation therapy arm versus three deaths in the groin dissection study arm (RR, 4.31; 95% CI, 1.03–18.15). Disease-specific mortality was not statistically significantly different between the two arms; however, there were eight versus two vulvar cancer-related deaths (including one related to groin dissection), in the radiation therapy arm and groin dissection arm, respectively (RR, 3.70; 95% CI, 0.87–15.80).[Level of evidence 1iiA] There were fewer cases of lymphedema in the radiation therapy arm (0 vs. 7) and shorter hospital stays. The dose penetration of the radiation (3 cm for full dose) has been criticized as inadequate. In summary, the trial was stopped prematurely, and little can be said about the relative efficacy of the two treatment approaches.
Pelvic radiation has been compared to pelvic node dissection in the setting of documented groin node-positive disease. Patients with clinical stage I to stage IV primary squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva in whom groin nodal metastases were found at radical vulvectomy and bilateral groin node dissection were randomly assigned during the surgical procedure to receive either ipsilateral pelvic node resection or pelvic radiation (45 Gy–50 Gy at 1.8 Gy–2.0 Gy per fraction). Because of a perceived emerging benefit of radiation, the planned accrual of 152 was stopped after 114 patients were randomly assigned. However, the apparent benefit of radiation was subsequently attenuated with further follow-up.
After a median follow-up of 74 months, the 6-year overall survival (OS) rate was 51% in the radiation arm versus 41% in the pelvic node dissection arm (hazard ratio [HR], 0.61; 95% CI, 0.3–1.3; P = .18). Vulvar cancer-specific mortality was statistically significantly lower in the radiation study arm (29% vs. 51% in the pelvic node resection arm) (HR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.28–0.87; P = .015) However, there were 14 intercurrent deaths in the radiation therapy arm versus two deaths in the pelvic dissection study arm. Late chronic lymphedema was similar in the radiation therapy and pelvic dissection groups arms (16% vs. 22%), respectively.[Level of evidence: 1iiB]
Radical radiation therapy can be used for patients unable to tolerate surgery or deemed
unsuitable for surgery because of site or extent of disease.
There is no standard chemotherapy for vulvar cancer, and reports describing the use of this modality in the setting of metastatic or recurrent disease are anecdotal. Extrapolating from regimens used for anal or cervical squamous cell cancers, chemotherapy has been studied in combination with radiation in the neoadjuvant setting or as primary therapy in advanced disease. Chemotherapy regimens have included various combinations of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), cisplatin, mitomycin-C, or bleomycin. There is no clear evidence of improvement in survival or palliation. Given the advanced age and comorbidity of many patients with advanced or recurrent vulvar cancer, patient tolerance is a major consideration in the use of these agents.
A systematic review of the use of neoadjuvant chemoradiation in patients who were considered inoperable or who would have required extensive surgery, such as pelvic exenteration, colostomy, or urinary diversion revealed no randomized trials. Five nonrandomized studies that met the inclusion criteria of neoadjuvant chemoradiation administered in this population with an intent to permit curative surgery were reviewed. The five studies used four different chemoradiation schedules and different radiation therapy dose-fractionation techniques. In the four studies using 5-FU + cisplatin or 5-FU + mitomycin-C, the operability rate after chemoradiation ranged from 63% to 92%.
In the one study using bleomycin, the operability rate was only 20%. In summary, there is evidence that neoadjuvant chemoradiation with 5-FU plus either cisplatin or mitomycin-C may convert patients to more operable status, but the evidence base is limited by study design. In addition to a paucity of randomized trials, interpretation of these studies is complicated by the lack of a standard definition of inoperability.[Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv] Treatment-related toxicity is substantial.
There is also limited evidence regarding the use of neoadjuvant chemoradiation in advanced operable cases of vulvar cancer, but the available data do not suggest an advantage to this approach. A systematic review found only one randomized trial that addressed this issue, and it was published only in abstract form. In that trial, 68 patients with advanced vulvar cancer (T2 >4 cm, T3, any case with positive lymph nodes) were randomly assigned to receive preoperative neoadjuvant radiation therapy (50 Gy) concomitantly with 5-FU plus mitomycin-C versus primary surgery. Neoadjuvant therapy-related serious toxicity was high (13 of 24 patients; 10 patients had wound diastasis). After a mean follow-up of 42 months, the 5-year OS rates in the neoadjuvant and primary surgery groups were 30% and 49%, respectively (RR of death, 1.39; 95% CI, 0.94–2.06; P = .19).[Level of evidence 1iiA]
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Eifel PJ, Morris M, Burke TW, et al.: Prolonged continuous infusion cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil with radiation for locally advanced carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 59 (1): 51-6, 1995.
Landoni F, Maneo A, Zanetta G, et al.: Concurrent preoperative chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil and mitomycin C and radiotherapy (FUMIR) followed by limited surgery in locally advanced and recurrent vulvar carcinoma. Gynecol Oncol 61 (3): 321-7, 1996.
Montana GS, Thomas GM, Moore DH, et al.: Preoperative chemo-radiation for carcinoma of the vulva with N2/N3 nodes: a gynecologic oncology group study. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 48 (4): 1007-13, 2000.
Moore DH, Thomas GM, Montana GS, et al.: Preoperative chemoradiation for advanced vulvar cancer: a phase II study of the Gynecologic Oncology Group. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 42 (1): 79-85, 1998.
Scheiströen M, Tropé C: Combined bleomycin and irradiation in preoperative treatment of advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Acta Oncol 32 (6): 657-61, 1993.
Maneo A, Landoni F, Colombo A, et al.: Randomised study between neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy and primary surgery for the treatment of advanced vulvar cancer. [Abstract] Int J Gynecol Cancer 13 (Suppl 1): A-PL19, 6, 2003.
Traditionally, there were three grades of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN). However, there is little evidence that all three grades are part of the same biologic continuum or that Grade 1 is even a cancer precursor. In 2004, the International Society for the Study of Vulvar Disease changed its terminology, reserving the designation VIN for two categories of lesions based on morphologic appearance:
The term VIN 1 was eliminated. Disease that was previously called VIN 1 (grade I) is generally observed without definitive treatment.
High-grade VIN is usually managed with active therapy because of a higher risk for progression to invasive disease. Estimates of progression rates are imprecise. A systematic literature review that included 88 untreated patients with VIN 3 reported a 9% progression rate (8 of 88 patients) to invasive vulvar cancer during 12 to 96 months of observation. In the same review, the spontaneous regression rate was 1.2%, all of which occurred in women younger than 35 years. However, in a single-center study, 10 of 63 (16%) untreated women with VIN 2 or VIN 3 progressed to invasive cancer after a mean of 3.9 years.
VIN lesions may be multifocal or confluent and extensive. It is important to perform multiple biopsies in treatment planning to exclude occult invasive disease. VIN located in nonhairy areas can be considered an epithelial disease; however, VIN occupying hairy sites usually involves the pilosebaceous apparatus and requires a greater depth of destruction or excision because it can track along hair roots.
The principal treatment approach is surgical, but there is no consensus on the optimal surgical procedure. The goal is to remove or destroy the entire VIN lesion while preserving vulvar anatomy and function. Simple vulvectomy yields a 5-year survival rate of essentially 100% but is
seldom indicated. Other more-limited surgical procedures, including separate excision of multiple lesions, are less deforming. The choice of treatment depends on the extent of the disease and the preference or experience of the treating physician. There are no reliable data comparing the efficacy and safety of the various surgical approaches.
A systematic literature review identified only a single randomized trial comparing any of the surgical approaches. In that trial, 30 women with high-grade VIN were randomly assigned to receive carbon dioxide (CO2) laser ablation versus ultrasound surgical aspiration (USA). There were no statistically significant differences in disease recurrence, painful dysuria or burning, adhesions, or eschar formation between the two treatments after 1 year of follow-up. Scarring was observed in 5 of 16 women treated with laser ablation and 0 of14 women treated with USA (P < .01), but consequences of the scarring on sexual function or quality of life were not reported.[Level of evidence 1iiDii] The trial was too small to draw reliable conclusions about the relative efficacy of these surgical techniques. The remainder of the surgical literature is derived from case series and is prone to important study biases.[Level of evidence 3iiiD]
Whatever procedure is used, patients are at substantial risk of recurrence, particularly when the lesions are high grade or multifocal. The most common sites of recurrence are the perianal skin, presacral area, and clitoral hood. About 4% of patients treated for VIN subsequently develop invasive cancer.
Because of the physical and psychosexual morbidity associated with many vulvar surgical procedures, nonsurgical approaches have been studied. Some of these approaches, including topical 5-fluorouracil, gamma-interferon, bleomycin, and trinitrochlorobenzene, have been largely abandoned because of intolerable local side effects, such as pain, irritation, and ulceration, or high recurrence rates. Photodynamic therapy, using topically applied 5-aminolevulinic acid as the sensitizing agent for 635 nm laser light, has also been studied. However, data are limited to small case series with variable response rates.[Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]
More recently, among women with high-grade VIN, substantial response rates and acceptable tolerability were reported for topical imiquimod 5%, an immune-response modifier with activity in HPV 6/11-associated vulvar condylomata. Three randomized placebo-controlled trials (including a total of 104 patients) with clinical response as their primary endpoints.[Level of evidence: 1iDiv] have been reported in either peer-reviewed-journal or abstract format. The results of these trials were summarized in a systematic review. At 5 to 6 months, the complete and partial response rates in patients were 36 of 62 and 18 of 62 in the combined imiquimod arms versus 0 of 42 and 1 of 42 in the combined placebo arms (relative risk [RR], 11.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.21–44.51).
In the only trial reporting progression to cancer (at 12 months), there was no difference in progression rate, but the trial was severely underpowered because only 3 of the total 52 women included developed invasive disease by 12 months. The only trial reporting quality of life  showed no difference between imiquimod and placebo. Local side effects of imiquimod included pain, edema, erythema, and a single case of erosion. However, no patients had to discontinue treatment as a result of toxicity.
Standard treatment options:
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage 0 vulvar cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
Kaushik S, Pepas L, Nordin A, et al.: Surgical interventions for high grade vulval intraepithelial neoplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1): CD007928, 2011.
van Seters M, van Beurden M, de Craen AJ: Is the assumed natural history of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia III based on enough evidence? A systematic review of 3322 published patients. Gynecol Oncol 97 (2): 645-51, 2005.
Jones RW, Rowan DM, Stewart AW: Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia: aspects of the natural history and outcome in 405 women. Obstet Gynecol 106 (6): 1319-26, 2005.
von Gruenigen VE, Gibbons HE, Gibbins K, et al.: Surgical treatments for vulvar and vaginal dysplasia: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol 109 (4): 942-7, 2007.
Küppers V, Stiller M, Somville T, et al.: Risk factors for recurrent VIN. Role of multifocality and grade of disease. J Reprod Med 42 (3): 140-4, 1997.
Buscema J, Woodruff JD, Parmley TH, et al.: Carcinoma in situ of the vulva. Obstet Gynecol 55 (2): 225-30, 1980.
Jones RW, Rowan DM: Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia III: a clinical study of the outcome in 113 cases with relation to the later development of invasive vulvar carcinoma. Obstet Gynecol 84 (5): 741-5, 1994.
Sillman FH, Sedlis A, Boyce JG: A review of lower genital intraepithelial neoplasia and the use of topical 5-fluorouracil. Obstet Gynecol Surv 40 (4): 190-220, 1985.
Hillemanns P, Untch M, Dannecker C, et al.: Photodynamic therapy of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia using 5-aminolevulinic acid. Int J Cancer 85 (5): 649-53, 2000.
Fehr MK, Hornung R, Schwarz VA, et al.: Photodynamic therapy of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia III using topically applied 5-aminolevulinic acid. Gynecol Oncol 80 (1): 62-6, 2001.
Sterling JC, Smith NA, Loo WJ, et al.: Randomized, doubleblind, placebo-controlled trial for treatment of high grade vulval intraepithelial neoplasia with imiquimod. [Abstract] J Eur Acad Derm Venereol 19 (Suppl 2): A-FC06.1, 22, 2005.
Mathiesen O, Buus SK, Cramers M: Topical imiquimod can reverse vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia: a randomised, double-blinded study. Gynecol Oncol 107 (2): 219-22, 2007.
van Seters M, van Beurden M, ten Kate FJ, et al.: Treatment of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia with topical imiquimod. N Engl J Med 358 (14): 1465-73, 2008.
Terlou A, van Seters M, Ewing PC, et al.: Treatment of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia with topical imiquimod: seven years median follow-up of a randomized clinical trial. Gynecol Oncol 121 (1): 157-62, 2011.
(Refer to the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for a more detailed discussion of the roles of surgery, lymph node dissection, and radiation therapy.)
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I vulvar cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
Malfetano JH, Piver MS, Tsukada Y, et al.: Univariate and multivariate analyses of 5-year survival, recurrence, and inguinal node metastases in stage I and II vulvar carcinoma. J Surg Oncol 30 (2): 124-31, 1985.
Stehman FB, Bundy BN, Dvoretsky PM, et al.: Early stage I carcinoma of the vulva treated with ipsilateral superficial inguinal lymphadenectomy and modified radical hemivulvectomy: a prospective study of the Gynecologic Oncology Group. Obstet Gynecol 79 (4): 490-7, 1992.
Hoffman MS, Roberts WS, Lapolla JP, et al.: Recent modifications in the treatment of invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Obstet Gynecol Surv 44 (4): 227-33, 1989.
Heaps JM, Fu YS, Montz FJ, et al.: Surgical-pathologic variables predictive of local recurrence in squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 38 (3): 309-14, 1990.
(Refer to the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for a more detailed discussion of the roles of surgery, node dissection, and radiation therapy.)
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage II vulvar cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
Faul CM, Mirmow D, Huang Q, et al.: Adjuvant radiation for vulvar carcinoma: improved local control. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 38 (2): 381-9, 1997.
(Refer to the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for a more detailed discussion of the roles of surgery, node dissection, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.)
Modified radical or radical vulvectomy with inguinal and femoral lymphadenectomy is the standard
Nodal involvement is a key determinant of survival.
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage III vulvar cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
Boronow RC, Hickman BT, Reagan MT, et al.: Combined therapy as an alternative to exenteration for locally advanced vulvovaginal cancer. II. Results, complications, and dosimetric and surgical considerations. Am J Clin Oncol 10 (2): 171-81, 1987.
Anderson JM, Cassady JR, Shimm DS, et al.: Vulvar carcinoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 32 (5): 1351-7, 1995.
(Refer to the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for a more detailed discussion of the roles of surgery, node dissection, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.)
Standard treatment options:
There is no standard treatment approach in the management of metastatic vulvar cancer. Local therapy must be individualized depending on the extent of local and metastatic disease. There is no standard chemotherapy for metastatic disease, and reports describing the use of this modality are anecdotal. However, by largely extrapolating from regimens used for anal or cervical cancer, chemotherapy has been studied. Regimens have included various combinations of 5-fluorouracil, cisplatin, mitomycin-C, or bleomycin. Given the advanced age and comorbidity of many patients with advanced or recurrent vulvar cancer, patient tolerance is a major consideration in the use of these agents. Physicians should offer eligible patients participation in clinical trials.
Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage IVA vulvar cancer and stage IVB vulvar cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
Russell AH, Mesic JB, Scudder SA, et al.: Synchronous radiation and cytotoxic chemotherapy for locally advanced or recurrent squamous cancer of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 47 (1): 14-20, 1992.
Berek JS, Heaps JM, Fu YS, et al.: Concurrent cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil chemotherapy and radiation therapy for advanced-stage squamous carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 42 (3): 197-201, 1991.
Koh WJ, Wallace HJ 3rd, Greer BE, et al.: Combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy in the management of local-regionally advanced vulvar cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 26 (5): 809-16, 1993.
Thomas G, Dembo A, DePetrillo A, et al.: Concurrent radiation and chemotherapy in vulvar carcinoma. Gynecol Oncol 34 (3): 263-7, 1989.
Cormio G, Loizzi V, Gissi F, et al.: Cisplatin and vinorelbine chemotherapy in recurrent vulvar carcinoma. Oncology 77 (5): 281-4, 2009.
Treatment and outcome depend on the site and extent of
recurrence. Radical excision of localized recurrence may be considered if technically feasible. Palliative radiation therapy is used for some patients. Radiation
therapy with or without chemotherapy may be associated with substantial disease-free periods in some patients with a small
local recurrence. When local recurrence occurs more than 2 years after
primary treatment, a combination of radiation therapy and surgery may result in
a 5-year survival rate of greater than 50%.
There is no standard treatment approach in the management of metastatic vulvar cancer. There is no standard chemotherapy, and reports describing the use of this modality are anecdotal. However, by largely extrapolating from regimens used for anal or cervical cancer, chemotherapy has been used, but with no clear evidence of improvement in survival or palliation. Regimens have included various combinations of 5-fluorouracil, cisplatin, mitomycin-C, or bleomycin. Given the advanced age and comorbidity of many patients with advanced or recurrent vulvar cancer, patient tolerance is a major consideration in the use of these agents. Physicians should offer eligible patients participation in clinical trials.
Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent vulvar cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
Piura B, Masotina A, Murdoch J, et al.: Recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva: a study of 73 cases. Gynecol Oncol 48 (2): 189-95, 1993.
Hopkins MP, Reid GC, Morley GW: The surgical management of recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Obstet Gynecol 75 (6): 1001-5, 1990.
Miyazawa K, Nori D, Hilaris BS, et al.: Role of radiation therapy in the treatment of advanced vulvar carcinoma. J Reprod Med 28 (8): 539-41, 1983.
Podratz KC, Symmonds RE, Taylor WF, et al.: Carcinoma of the vulva: analysis of treatment and survival. Obstet Gynecol 61 (1): 63-74, 1983.
Shimm DS, Fuller AF, Orlow EL, et al.: Prognostic variables in the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Gynecol Oncol 24 (3): 343-58, 1986.
This information was last updated on March 12, 2014.
Our licensed social workers are here to help adult patients and their loved ones face the many new concerns and anxieties following a cancer diagnosis, offering emotional support and assistance with obtaining needed resources.
Our support groups are geared to specific cancers and methods of treatment. They give patients the opportunity to meet and share information and moral support. Our experienced, compassionate staff facilitates and guides discussion.
If you are dealing with the death of a loved one, grief can be a lonely and isolating experience. The Bereavement Program provides support to bereaved family members and friends following the death of a patient.
Concierge Services is your one-stop place to learn about Dana-Farber programs, services and resources, as well as information on getting around Boston, finding lodging or restaurants, and activities in the area.
The Expressive Arts Therapy program, sponsored by the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, provides adult patients, family members, and caregivers with a variety of options to support well-being during cancer treatment. From live music meditation to painting technique workshops, the program offers a range of creative outlets to suit every interest.
Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women's Hospital, including parking facilities, are fully accessible to people with disabilities. There are wheelchairs at the main entrance, and security staff can provide personal assistance. We also have many educational materials available in large print and audiotape formats.
The Ethics Consultation Service is available for patients and families who may be facing difficult decisions and choices regarding care. Our goal is to bring together patients, families and health care providers to talk about ethical concerns and help everyone involved arrive at a resolution that is right for all.
This comprehensive resource offers guidance, information and resources to support the entire family, including how to talk to children about cancer, advice for the well partner, and creating a support network.
Find practical tips and suggestions for individuals caring for a family member or friend with cancer, including creating a caregiving plan, finding community resources, and looking after your own well-being.
Friends' Place provides personal consultations to help cancer patients of all ages cope with changes in physical appearance that result from cancer treatment. Our experienced, compassionate team provides fittings for compression garments or breast prostheses, helps with wigs and other head coverings, and offers make-up and skincare advice.
The Friends' Corner Gift Shop, located on the first floor of the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care, offers a wide selection of unique gifts and everyday items for patients, families and staff.
Dana-Farber offers several services to help you and your family manage the financial side of cancer treatment. From creating bill payment schedules and estate planning advice to debt management and resource assistance for patients in need, our team is here for you.
Every year, thousands of patients with cancer from around the world come to Dana-Farber for their care. We provide a wide array of logistical and other services for individuals who live outside the United States.
Dana-Farber provides interpreting services for patients whose first language is not English. Interpreters may be requested for any activity, including registration, booking appointments, attending treatments and exams, support groups, and meetings with doctors and other members of your health care team.
Our nutritionists are registered dietitians who can assist you in planning an optimal diet during any stage of your cancer journey, cope with any side effects you may experience, and answer your questions about the latest findings on cancer and nutrition.
One-to-One connects adult patients, family members and caregivers with individuals who have gone through cancer themselves, providing an experienced and reassuring perspective for those facing a cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
The Eleanor and Maxwell Blum Patient and Family Resource Center and its satellite resource rooms are staffed by health care professionals and provide computer stations, books, brochures, videos, and CDs to help you find information and support on a variety of issues about cancer treatment and care.
The Patient Navigator Program provides resources and support for Spanish-speaking patients who are diagnosed, or have a high chance of being diagnosed, with breast, cervical and colorectal cancer.
Patients websites help friends and family members stay up-to-date on their loved ones' condition and write messages of support and encouragement.
The Dana-Farber pharmacy fills prescriptions for all pediatric and adult patients. Our pharmacists are an extension of the patient care team and work closely with your physicians to provide seamless, convenient, safe care.
More than 1,200 Dana-Farber patients and their families have enjoyed free trips to baseball games, theater shows, museums, and other attractions this year through the Recreational Resources program.
The Sexual Health Program provides education, consultation and personalized rehabilitation for patients and their partners who have experienced changes in sexual health during and after cancer treatment.
Through all stages of cancer treatment and survivorship, our Spiritual Care staff is available 24 hours a day to provide emotional and spiritual support for adults and pediatric patients and family members.
Young adults with cancer face very different challenges than patients who were diagnosed earlier in childhood or later in adulthood. The Young Adult Program can help you to find the resources and expertise available at Dana-Farber to help support your cancer experience.
Integrative therapies, also known as complementary therapies, range from acupuncture and massage to nutritional guidance and music therapy. Patients treated at the Zakim Center credit its services with easing nausea, improving circulation, and reducing pain, stress, and anxiety associated with cancer treatment.
The Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers at Dana-Farber provides a variety of services to help patients and their families cope with the many physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges of a cancer diagnosis and its treatment. We are committed to helping patients regain a sense of control over their lives and feel their best throughout treatment and beyond.
Although cervical cancer is relatively rare in the United States, approximately 11,000-12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed each year. Thanks to regular screenings using the Pap smear, the number of American women who die from cervical cancer has decreased steadily over the last 40 years.
Cervical cancer is most commonly caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be transmitted during sexual activity.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can cause abnormal tissue growth and other changes to cells. The virus can be spread through skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity and can be carried by both men and women. There are multiple strains of the virus that can cause genital warts and several forms of cancer, including cervical cancer and oropharyngeal cancer.
HPV is the leading risk factor for cervical cancer, as almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV infection. Approximately 70 percent of cervical cancers are caused by HPV strains 16 and 18, which can also cause some vaginal, vulvar and penile cancers.
Watch more videos about cervical cancer risk, prevention, and treatment.
The signs and symptoms for cervical cancer can include vaginal bleeding, unusual vaginal discharge, pelvic pain or back pain, and bleeding after sexual intercourse. Symptoms of cervical cancer may not appear until the disease is advanced, so it is important undergo regular screenings.
Both the HPV vaccine and regular screenings can help reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Most people who are infected with HPV do not develop cancer. In fact, many HPV infections go away within 1-2 years.
If a woman is infected, her doctor may require more frequent screenings and Pap smears to monitor any abnormalities found in the cervix. There is currently no treatment for HPV infections, but there are surgical treatments for precancerous lesions (cervical dysplasia) if they develop. Treating these early can help prevent further development of cancer.
The longer someone is infected with the virus, the higher the chance she has for developing cancer, so it is important to undergo regular screenings.
Both men and women can carry and transmit HPV. In addition to cervical cancer, HPV infections can increase risk for oropharyngeal and penile cancer. The CDC recommends HPV vaccinations for boys ages 11-12, and up until age 21. The vaccine Gardasil is approved for both boys and girls.
Learn more about cervical cancer screening recommendations.
Read about Dana-Farber's HPV and Related Cancers Outreach Program.