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Primary treatment of Bartholin's gland carcinoma with radiation and chemoradiation: a report on ten consecutive cases
  1. E. LÓPez-Varela*,
  2. E. Oliva,
  3. J. F. Mcintyre and
  4. JR A. F. Fuller*
  1. *Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  2. Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  3. Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Elisa Lopez-Varela, MD, Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA. Email: elopezvarela{at}


We reviewed our experience with primary radiation therapy for Bartholin's gland carcinoma (BGC) as an alternative to traditional surgical treatment. A retrospective study reviewed records from the Cancer Data Registry and Research Patient Data Registry from 1986 to 2002. Charts of ten women identified with BGC were reviewed for demographic information, presenting symptoms, tumor characteristics, treatment modalities, and complications, as well as for recurrence and survival. The incidence of BGC was 2.13% of all invasive vulvar cancer cases at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Four patients presented with clinical stage I disease, one with stage II, three with stage III, and two with stage IV. The median age at diagnosis was 63.5 years. There were five squamous cell carcinomas, two adenoid cystic carcinomas, two mucinous adenocarcinomas, and one small-cell carcinoma. After a change in treatment policy in 1986 from primary surgery that had often required postoperative radiation therapy, ten consecutive patients were treated with primary radiotherapy or chemoradiation therapy. Treatment included teletherapy combined with a boost to the primary site, regional nodes and/or interstitial brachytherapy. Short-term complications were mild and well tolerated; one patient developed late radiation-associated pelvic fractures. Four tumors recurred with a mean time to recurrence of 31.2 months. The median follow-up was 87.2 months (45–142). Three- and 5-year survivals were 71.5% and 66%, comparable to outcomes after surgery and postoperative radiation therapy. We conclude that primary radiation or chemoradiation therapy offers an effective alternative to surgery in the treatment of BGC with preservation of genital function and low morbidity.

  • Bartholin's gland carcinoma
  • vulva carcinoma
  • radiation therapy

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