​​ReKindle Hope for Vulvar Cancer

​             Suzanne Lee Prince Foundation  

Women with vulvar cancer diagnosis are encouraged to talk with your doctor about participating in clinical trials, if available. Clinical trials are the final step in a long process that begins with research in a lab. Most treatments utilized today are the results of past clinical trials. Cancer clinical trials are designed to test new ways to:

  • Treat cancer
  • Find and diagnose cancer
  • Prevent cancer
  • Manage side effects of treatments leading to a better quality of life

​go to... National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) for information

2. A new biologic, Cidofovir cream, is being studied as a treatment for VIN.

​3. Another biologic cream, Veregen, which contains a substance from green tea, and already known to treat genital warts in women, is being studied for possible treatment for VIN. 

​4. Vaccines that are similar to already approved HPV vaccines but are now only administered to pre-teens or if qualified, may be given up to 26 years old ... are being tested on older women. A vaccine of this type was tested in women with grade 3 vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN3) who also tested positive for HPV-16. The results are promising where some lesions had significant size reductions and other lesions were completely removed.

​5. Studies are also being conducted to relieve radiation therapy side effects, such as radiation fibrosis, where radiation cause a loss of elasticity to the surrounding healthy tissues. For example, radiation to the pelvic area may cause long term bowel problems such as diarrhea.
One clinical trial is using  hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy and another is using the drug pentoxifylline, a palm oil supplement. The trials hope to show a relief of radiation fibrosis. caused by pelvic radiotherapy.  

The increasing understanding of cancer cell biology is leading to personalized management of cancer, composed of a team to assist not only about the cancer treatment but includes other disciplines such as nutrition counselors and spiritual/mental experts, working together with you.  

Current studies are geared towards better treatment options for cancer care. The following studies also include vulvar cancers ...

1. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) as a treatment for VIN and early vulvar cancers. 

PDT uses a drug, called a photosensitizer and laser light.   Photosensitizers may be applied to skin (topical) or administered by injection or into the vein ... and absorbed by cells throughout the body but stays in cancer cells longer than it does in normal cells. When cancer cells are exposed to  the laser light, the cancer cells are killed.  Because the photosensitizer drug is absorbed throughout the body (systemic) , the body becomes photosensitive ... especially making skin and eyes sensitive to light. Thus, patients are advised to avoid direct sunlight and bright indoor light for at least 6 weeks. Although damage to healthy tissue is minimal. PDT was shown to cause burns, swelling, pain, and scarring in nearby healthy tissue.

PDT is otherwise promising and ongoing research is being done to study ways to improve the effectiveness and delivery of PDT.