Vulvar Cancer Treatment follow other cancer treatments. These options are used alone or may be combined. The options are:
1. Surgery remains the primary treatment choice. Vulvectomy is the surgical removal of the vulva. It can be radical (over 80% is removed); or modified (partial); or skinning where only the top layer where abnormal cells are noted, like in VIN, is removed.
2. Radiation Therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. In treating vulvar cancers, radiation is delivered from outside the body called external beam radiation therapy.
3. Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs that are usually given intravenously (into a vein), by mouth, or applied to the skin (topically).
For vulvar cancer, there is no standard treatment because there are so few cases and clinical trials are limited - making it difficult to identify the best regimen. Mostly, platinum based drugs, like Cisplatin, are used --- either alone or in combination with other anti-cancer drugs. However, these drugs have many side effects and can kill normal cells. The good news is, with increasing understanding of cancer cell biology, new "targeted" treatments are being discovered, as in #4.
3. Targeted treatments (Biologics/Immunotherapy) directly target the cancer cells while sparing normal cells. A BIOLOGIC is either a man-made substance or substances already present in the body, known to strengthen the body's immune system to fight the cancer... by killing the abnormal cancer cells, or prevent them from multiplying, or reprogram them to behave like healthy cells.
Imiquimod is a biologic cream that is showing good results for the treatment of vulvar lesions. There are promising results in treating vulvar cancers with biologic agents that are already used for other cancers,
The vaccine to prevent HPV infection ( a risk factor in vulvar cancer) is an example of immunotherapy.
Diagnosis for vulvar cancer should include a thorough physical examination and diagnostic biopsy.
1. Vulvoscopy and Colposcopy
Vulvoscopy examines the vulva. Colposcopy examines the cervix and vagina. Both tests use a special microscope to look for abnormal cells. Any abnormal cell should be biopsied to rule out cancer.
2. Imaging tests - also used to see if cancer has spread and to determine if treatment is working.
3. Other laboratory tests like blood counts.
There were no treatment guidelines for Suzanne's Vulvar Cancer.
The cancer cells originated from the Bartholin Glands (adenocarcinoma).
The cancer cell type was neuroendocrine with a poorly differentiated grade.
The neuroendocrine system is a network of neuroendocrine cells and found throughout the body. Neuroendocrine cells share a similar structure to nerve cells (neurons) and produce hormones like endocrine cells. Hormones are substances that regulate specific body functions, such as growth. These hormones work like neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals released by a nerve cell to transmit signals or impulses from one nerve cell to another nerve cell or other specialized cells.
Neuroendocrine tumors (NET) can become cancerous (called malignant NETs, or neuroendocrine carcinomas). These cancers can occur anywhere in the body.
Treatment options for NETS follow the 3 main cancer treatments:
- surgery, radiation, chemotherapy
Other cancer treatments include:
- hormonal therapy, biological/Immunotherapy, stem cell transplant
* more in-depth information at cancer.net or cancer.gov