Objective: This guideline reviews the clinical evaluation and management of squamous cell cancer (SCC) of the vulva with respect to diagnosis, primary surgical, radiation, or chemotherapy management and need for adjuvant treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Other vulvar cancer pathologic diagnoses are not included in the guideline.
Intended users: The first part of this document which includes recommendations 1 through 3 is for general gynaecologists, obstetricians, family doctors, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, residents, and health care providers with a focus on the presentation, diagnosis, and updated information about surgical procedures performed by subspecialists. The surgical management and treatment of advanced vulvar cancer are intended for gynaecologic oncologists, radiation oncologists, and medical oncologists who treat these complex patients. This guideline is intended to provide information for interested parties who may follow these patients once treatment is complete.
Target population: Adult women (18 years and older) with SCC of the vulva. Excluded from these guidelines are women with preinvasive disease.
Options: Women diagnosed with SCC of the vulva should be referred to a gynaecologic oncologist for initial evaluation, consideration for primary surgery and inguinal lymph node assessment, and potentially adjuvant radiation and/or chemotherapy. All cases of vulvar cancer should have access to discussion at a multidisciplinary cancer case conference. Women who would otherwise require radical surgery such as abdominal-perineal resection or exenterative procedures may be considered for primary treatment with radiation and/or chemotherapy.
Evidence: For this guideline, relevant studies were searched in PubMed, Medline, and the Cochrane Systematic Reviews using the following terms, either alone or in combination, with the search limited to English language materials: vulva, vulvar cancer, inguinofemoral lymph node dissection, sentinel nodes, systemic chemotherapy, radiotherapy, neoadjuvant, adjuvant, primary, exenteration, survival, follow up. The initial search was performed in September 2016 with a final literature search in May 2017. Relevant evidence was selected for inclusion in the following order: meta-analyses, systematic reviews, guidelines, randomized controlled trials, prospective cohort studies, observational studies, non-systematic reviews, case series, and reports. Additional significant articles were identified through cross-referencing the identified reviews. The total number of studies identified was 286, and 78 studies were included in this review.
Validation methods: The content and recommendations were drafted and agreed upon by the principal authors. The Executive and Board of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology of Canada reviewed the content and submitted comments for consideration, and the Board of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada approved the final draft for publication. The quality of evidence was rated using the criteria described in the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) methodology framework (Table 1). The interpretation of strong and weak recommendations is described in Table 2. The Summary of Findings is available upon request.
Benefits, harms, and/or costs: These guidelines are to encourage physicians in the appropriate use of sentinel inguinal lymph node assessment for SCC of the vulva. The committee also promotes the centralization of treatment of vulvar cancer in specialized treatment centres.
Guideline update: Evidence will be reviewed 5 years after publication to decide whether all or part of the guideline should be updated. However, if important new evidence is published prior to the 5-year cycle, the review process may be accelerated for a more rapid update of some recommendations.
Sponsors: This guideline was developed with resources funded by the Society of Gynecologic Oncology of Canada and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.
Summary statements: RECOMMENDATIONS.