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Unilateral groin and pelvic irradiation for unilaterally node-positive women with vulval carcinoma
  1. K. S. Jackson*,
  2. E. F. Fankam*,
  3. N. Das*,
  4. R. Naik*,
  5. A. D. Lopes*,
  6. K. A. Godfrey*,
  7. M. H. Hatem*,
  8. A. N. Branson and
  9. W. T. Taylor
  1. *Northern Gynaecological Oncology Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, United Kingdom
  2. Northern Centre for Cancer Treatment, Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to: K.S. Jackson, MB BCh, Northern Gynaecological Oncology Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead NE9 6SX, UK. Email: suzijackson{at}


It is essential that any patient with resected vulval cancer and significant nodal disease receive optimal adjuvant treatment with radiation. Adequate radiotherapy for such patients with unilateral positive groin nodes has not been defined. Whether both groins and pelvic sidewalls should be irradiated or only the affected (node positive) side remains unclear. From our registry, we identified all patients with primary, previously untreated squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva undergoing bilateral inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy (superficial and deep nodes) and having unilaterally positive groin nodes treated with unilateral groin and pelvic radiotherapy (44 Gy in 22 fractions). Clinical and pathologic records were reviewed to identify the anatomical site and timing of recurrences in these patients and determine whether unilateral groin and pelvic irradiation was sufficient for disease control on the node-negative side. From 1983 to 2002, 20 patients with unilateral positive nodes treated with unilateral groin and pelvic irradiation were identified. Nineteen patients were classed as having FIGO stage III disease and one as FIGO stage IV due to involvement of the rectal mucosa. There were nine patients with disease recurrences in this group (45%). The disease-free interval ranged from 4 to 31 months (median time to recurrence, 9 months). All nine patients had local or regional failures, the most common site being the ipsilateral groin (six of nine patients). One patient was also found to have distant metastases. There were no recurrences noted in the contralateral (nonirradiated) groin or pelvic sidewall. Recurrence was generally fatal. Eight of the nine patients subsequently died of their disease. The ninth patient died of another cause. There was a high incidence of regional failure after unilateral groin and pelvic radiotherapy, but there were no recurrences on the nonirradiated, node-negative side. Although a small series, we speculate that there is no apparent disadvantage to administering unilateral adjuvant radiotherapy for unilaterally positive groin nodes and encourage further studies in order to more confidently determine whether the tendency observed in our center holds true.

  • vulval cancer
  • radiation
  • recurrence
  • node positivity

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