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Vulvar cancer patients' quality of life: a qualitative assessment
  1. M. Janda*,,
  2. A. Obermair,
  3. D. Cella§,
  4. A. J. Crandon and
  5. M. Trimmel
  1. * Centre for Public Health Research, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Australia
  2. Queensland Cancer Fund, Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia
  3. Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer, Royal Womens' Hospital, Herston, QLD, Australia
  4. § Center on Outcomes, Research and Education, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare and Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA
  5. Department of Environmental Psychology and Experimental Medical Psychology, Institute of Environmental Health, University Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Michael Trimmel, PhD, Institute of Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Psychology and Experimental Medical Psychology, University Vienna, Kinderspitalgasse 15, A-1095 Vienna, Austria. Email: michael.trimmel{at}


To develop a vulvar cancer-specific quality of life (QOL) subscale to accompany the Functional Assessment of Cancer–General (FACT-G) questionnaire, semistructured interviews were performed with 15 patients treated for vulvar cancer (FIGO stage 0–3). All but one patient, who received chemoradiotherapy, were treated by radical vulvectomy and six patients received a groin lymph node dissection. Patients experienced reductions in several aspects of QOL including emotional functioning, physical functioning, social functioning, sexuality, and body image. Six patients suffered from lymphedema of the legs with a mean severity of 3.5 on a 10-point scale. Four patients reported pruritus (severity rating 8.5). Seven patients expressed a need for more information about the illness and treatment. Only four patients returned to employment after treatment, and all of these patients reported work-related problems. Reductions in sexual functioning were a major concern for five patients, all younger than 65 years. Other topics were groin discomfort after removal of the lymph nodes and disturbance by odor from the vulva. Results of this study revealed vulvar cancer-specific reductions in QOL for inclusion in the newly developed vulvar cancer-specific subscale.

  • qualitative research
  • quality of life
  • vulvar cancer

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