Understanding the Stages of Vulvar Cancer
What are the Stages of Vulvar Cancer?
The stage of cancer tells how much cancer there is and how far it has spread. By using exams and tests, a doctor can tell the stage of a person's vulvar cancer. A cancer's stage is one of the most important factors in deciding the best treatment for the cancer. Stage 0 or carcinoma in situ is a very early lesion. The lesion is found only in the surface of the skin.
Invasive vulvar cancer is staged as follows, based on findings and pathology from surgery:
Stage II. The tumor is any size and has spread to adjacent perineal sites such as the lower urethra, lower vagina, or anus, but has not spread to lymph nodes.
Stage III. In stage III, the tumor is any size and has spread to nearby (inguinal or femoral) lymph nodes. It may or may not have spread to adjacent site such as the lower urethra, lower vagina, or anus.
Stage IIIA. The cancer has spread either to a single lymph node metastasis of up to 5 mm or to one or two lymph nodes metastases that are smaller than 5 mm..
Stage IVB. This is the most advanced stage of vulvar cancer, in which the cancer has spread to organs, tissues, and/or lymph nodes further away in the body.
Recurrent. Recurrent cancer means that the cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated. It may come back in the vulva or another place.
The staging of vulvar cancer can be very confusing. People should seek out care from a gynecologic oncologist, a subspecialist with advanced training in the diagnosis and management of vulvar cancer.