Vulvar Cancers



Vulvar cancer treatment usually involves surgery to remove the cancer and a small amount of surrounding healthy tissue. Depending on the stage of the disease, the extent of surgical removal may vary. The earlier vulvar cancer is diagnosed, the less likely an extensive surgery is needed for treatment.

  • Removing the cancer and a margin of healthy tissue (excision).
  • Removing a portion of the vulva (partial vulvectomy).
  • Removing the entire vulva (radical vulvectomy).
  • If cancer has spread beyond the vulva and involves nearby organs, the doctor may recommend removing all of the vulva and the involved organs in a procedure called pelvic exenteration. The surgeon may remove the lower colon, rectum, bladder, cervix, uterus, vagina, ovaries and nearby lymph nodes depending where the cancer has spread.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy for vulvar cancer is usually administered by a machine that moves around the body and directs radiation to precise points on the skin (external beam radiation). Radiation therapy is sometimes used to shrink large vulvar cancers in order to make it more likely that surgery will be successful. If cancer cells are discovered in the lymph nodes, the doctor may recommend radiation to the area around the lymph nodes to kill any cancer cells that might remain after surgery.


For women with advanced vulvar cancer that has spread to other areas of the body, chemotherapy may be an option. Sometimes chemotherapy is combined with radiation therapy to shrink large vulvar cancers in order to make it more likely that surgery will be successful.

Additional Resources

The National Cancer Institute is a reliable source for in-depth information about many cancers including treatment of vulvar cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides information, US statistics, and resources related to vaginal and vulvar cancer.

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