One common treatment for vulvar cancer is surgery, where a procedure is performed in order to remove the tumor and a margin of healthy tissue. Patients have several surgical options, and the type of surgery can depend on a few factors, such as:
- Your overall health.
- The type and stage of your cancer.
- The size of the tumor.
- If the cancer has spread within the vagina, outside of the vagina to the lymph nodes, or to other parts of the body.
The most common types of vulvar cancer surgery include:
- Local Excision. In a local excision procedure, the surgeon removes the cancer along with surrounding tissue. For small stage I cancers, treatment may include a radical wide local excision along with a procedure to evaluate the lymph nodes.
- Vulvectomy. This type of surgery aims to remove all or part of the vulva. Depending on the case, full- or partial vulvectomy may be required. A radical vulvectomy is removal of the vulva along with surrounding tissue.
- Pelvic exenteration. This extensive operation is used to treat vulvar cancer involves vulvectomy and often removal of the pelvic lymph nodes, as well as removal of one or more of the following structures: the lower colon, rectum, bladder, uterus, cervix, and vagina. How much has to be removed depends on how far the cancer has spread.