To retrospectively investigate the outcome and toxicity of concurrent chemo-radiotherapy in the treatment of locally advanced vulvar cancer (LAVC).
Between 1996 and 2007, 28 consecutive patients with LAVC were treated with chemoradiation (20 primary tumors and 8 loco-regional recurrences). Treatment consists of 2 separate courses of external-beam radiotherapy (40 Gy-2 weeks split-20 Gy). During each course of radiotherapy, 5-fluorouracil (1000 mg/m/d), was given as a continuous intravenous infusion over the first 4 days, and mitomycin-C (10 mg/m on day 1), as a bolus intravenous injection. Outcome measures were rates of complete and partial response, loco-regional control, progression-free survival, overall survival, and toxicity.
The median follow-up was 42 months and the median age of patients was 68 years. Twenty patients (72%) achieved complete remission, 4 patients (14%) partial remission, for an overall response rate of 86%. Four patients (14%) had progressive disease directly after chemo-radiotherapy. The actuarial rates of loco-regional control, progression-free survival and overall survival at 4 years were 75%, 71%, and 65%, respectively. There was no treatment break for acute toxicity. Vulvar desquamation was the main acute treatment-related side effect (93%). Three patients developed transient grade 2 neutropenia or thrombocytopenia. Mild skin fibrosis and atrophy (n = 6, 21%), radiation ulcer (n = 4, 14%, in one patient treatment was needed), telangectasia (n = 3, 11%), and lymphoedema (n = 2, 7%) were the most common late toxicity of chemoradiation.
These data support the use of concurrent chemoradiotherapy as an effective alternative to primary ultra-radical surgery to treat LAVC with an acceptable toxicity profile.