Invited Review| Volume 158, ISSUE 1, P208-217, July 2020

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Locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva: A challenging question for gynecologic oncologists


      • Advanced vulvar carcinoma is based on the primary tumor (T3-T4), or on the presence of bulky, fixed or ulcerated nodes.
      • Preservation of the bowel and/or urinary function without permanent stomas may require multimodality approaches.
      • A personalized approach with RT with/without concurrent chemo and/or surgery may be justified to avoid permanent stomas.
      • A multidisciplinary approach is warranted for patients with locally advanced vulvar carcinoma.


      Squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva is a rare female malignancy, with an incidence increasing with age. Unfortunately, one third of the patients are diagnosed with locally advanced disease, which constitutes a clinical challenge for the clinicians who treat these patients. The main challenges are represented by: 1. The primary site of the disease, which can be proximal to anatomical structures like the anal canal posteriorly, or the urethra and the bladder anteriorly, that in some circumstances cannot be spared without a bowel and/or urinary stoma; 2. The locoregional nodes that can be involved by the tumor, and they can be bulky, fixed or ulcerated; 3. The clinical condition of the patient, who may carry several comorbidities. Treatment modalities include radiation with or without chemotherapy, and surgery. In order to preserve the bowel and the urinary function without a permanent stoma, a personalized management with a multimodality approach is warranted. In this systematic review, we first clarify the different definitions of “locally advanced vulvar carcinoma”. Secondly, we evaluated the different treatment modalities described in the literature, and the impact of the different treatment strategies on prognosis and on preservation of bowel/urinary function. Finally, we offer a possible algorithm that may help the clinicians in treating patients with these uncommon and challenging situations with a multidisciplinary approach.


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