Objective. Primary surgical resection of locally advanced squamous cancer of the vulva may compromise the integrity of important midline structures such as the anus, clitoris, urethra, and vagina. Chemoradiation (synchronous radiation and cytotoxic chemotherapy) has been used as alternative initial treatment which may serve as definitive management for some patients, or may reduce the scope and functional sequelae of subsequent surgery in others. Inguinofemoral node dissection is associated with substantial risk of both acute and late morbidity, prompting consideration of elective inclusion of groin nodes within the irradiated volume and deletion of subsequent groin surgery. Concern that disease relapse in the groins is potentially fatal suggested the prudence of formal outcome assessment of our recent experience with prophylactic treatment of clinically uninvolved groin nodes in the context of concurrent chemoradiation for locally advanced primary vulvar cancer. Methods. A review was conducted of 23 previously untreated patients with locally advanced squamous cancer of the vulva (2 T2, 20 T3, 1 T4) and clinically uninvolved groin nodes (1969 FIGO stages 14 N0, 4 N1, and 5 N2 with negative node biopsies) who were treated since 1987 with chemoradiation administered to a volume electively including bilateral inguinofemoral nodes. These patients did not undergo subsequent groin surgery. Results. With follow-up from 6 to 98 months (mean, 45.3 months; median; 42 months), no patient has failed in the prophylactically irradiated inguinofemoral nodes. No patient has developed lymphedema, vascular insufficiency, or neurological injury in a lower extremity and no patient has experienced aseptic necrosis of a femur. Conclusions. Elective irradiation of the groin nodes in the context of initial chemoradiation for locally advanced vulvar cancer is an effective therapy associated with acceptable acute toxicity and minimal late sequelae. It constitutes a sensible alternative to groin dissection in this patient population.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology