Medline: 8244830

International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 27(4): 963-967, 1993.

Inguinofemoral radiation of N0, N1 vulvar cancer may be equivalent to lymphadenectomy if proper radiation technique is used.

Petereit DG, Mehta MP, Buchler DA, et al.


To update a previous retrospective study that compared inguinofemoral irradiation (N = 23) to lymphadenectomy (N = 25) for N0,N1 vulvar carcinoma with more patients and longer follow-up. These results, unlike the recent randomized Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG study), suggest that radiation is a viable alternative to groin dissection, and the differences may be explained on the basis of irradiation technique.

AND MATERIALS: Based on a growing body of data supporting control of subclinical nodal disease with irradiation in vulvar cancer, the decision was made to offer patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva and clinically negative groins (N0,N1), either lymphadenectomy or inguinofemoral irradiation based on clinical factors. Because of the acute skin reaction and possible underdosing of deep femoral nodes with electrons as used in the GOG study, opposed photon fields to 50 Gy were used. From 1983 to 1991, 48 patients underwent a radical vulvectomy followed by either lymphadenectomy (Group I, n = 25) or inguinofemoral irradiation (Group II, n = 23).

The actuarial nodal control was 100% in Group I and 91% in Group II (p = 0.14). In addition, there was no difference in cause specific survival at 3 years (96% and 90%, respectively, p = 0.47). The morbidity of lymphadenectomy (Group I) included: 16% lymphedema, 16% seromas, 44% infection, and 68% wound separation. In the irradiated patients (Group II), 16% developed lymphedema and only 9% had a significant skin reaction.

Based on this analysis of local control and survival with longer follow-up and more patients, irradiation of the N0, N1 inguinofemoral nodes may be a viable alternative to lymphadenectomy for squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva if proper radiation technique and dose are used. In addition, the acute and delayed morbidity of lymphadenectomy exceeds that of irradiation.

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