A Part of the University of Maryland Medical Center

Connect with UMGCC
Facebook Twitter YouTube Blog iPhone
Email PageEmail page Print PagePrint page

Vulvar Cancer Treatment

Stages of Vulvar Cancer

After vulvar cancer has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the vulva or to other parts of the body.

The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the vulva or to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process:

There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body.

The three ways that cancer spreads in the body are:

When cancer cells break away from the primary (original) tumor and travel through the lymph or blood to other places in the body, another (secondary) tumor may form. This process is called metastasis. The secondary (metastatic) tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the bones, the cancer cells in the bones are actually breast cancer cells. The disease is metastatic breast cancer, not bone cancer.

The following stages are used for vulvar cancer:

Stage 0 (Carcinoma in Situ)

In stage 0, abnormal cells are found on the surface of the vulvar skin. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in situ.

Stage I

In stage I, cancer has formed and is found in the vulva only or in the vulva and perineum (area between the rectum and the vagina). The tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller and has spread to tissue under the skin. Stage I vulvar cancer is further divided into stage IA and stage IB.

Stage II

In stage II, cancer is found in the vulva or the vulva and perineum (space between the rectum and the vagina), and the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters.

Stage III

In stage III, the cancer is of any size and either:

Stage IV

Stage IV is divided into stage IVA and stage IVB, based on where the cancer has spread.