Cancer of the vulva (the tissues near the opening of the vagina) is not common. But when it happens to you, you may be concerned not only about curing cancer, but how you will look and feel afterward. At NewYork-Presbyterian, we understand your concerns and tailor a plan of treatment that meets your needs.
A Team of Vulvar Cancer Specialists
Your care team includes gynecologic oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, nurses, and others with experience treating all types of vulvar cancer—including squamous cell cancer, adenocarcinoma, Paget disease, melanoma, sarcoma, and basal cell cancer. Your team will create a customized plan of care aimed at curing your cancer. They also treat precancer called vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) to prevent it from progressing to vulvar cancer.
Surgery is a common treatment for vulvar cancer. Our gynecologic oncologists aim to remove the least amount of tissue possible to treat your vulvar cancer, with the goal of minimizing deformity while maintaining your sexual function and quality of life. More extensive vulvar cancers may need more extensive surgery. Your gynecologic oncologist will let you know which surgical approach is best for you.
- Laser surgery. If you have precancerous cells on the surface of the vulva, you may be able to have laser surgery to "burn" the abnormal cells.
- Local excision. With this approach, the surgeon removes cancer and some of the tissue around it, leaving the rest of the vulva intact.
- Vulvectomy. If your tumor has grown more deeply into the vulva, you may have vulvectomy to remove part or all of the vulva, depending on the extent of the tumor's growth.
- Ultrasound surgical aspiration. With this surgical procedure, your doctor breaks up the tumor into small pieces using very fine sound vibrations. The small pieces of tumor are washed away and removed by suction. This procedure causes less damage to nearby tissue.
Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy
Some vulvar precancers (such as VIN) are treated with topical chemotherapy, applied as a cream or lotion.
If your vulvar cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy and chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells. You can receive finely targeted radiation therapy in our state-of-the-art radiation treatment centers, and chemotherapy in our modern and comfortable infusion centers. These centers are staffed by skilled and compassionate professionals whose goal is to cure your cancer while supporting your health and well-being.
Our gynecologic cancer specialists participate in and lead clinical trials assessing promising new treatments for gynecologic cancers. Your doctor will let you know if you are eligible to participate in a clinical trial of an innovative therapy for vulvar cancer. Learn More.