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Should Groin Recurrence Still Be Considered as a Palliative Situation in Vulvar Cancer Patients?: A Brief Report
  1. Janine N. Frey, MD*,
  2. Monika Hampl, MD,
  3. Michael D. Mueller, MD* and
  4. Andreas R. Günthert, MD*
  1. *Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Inselspital, University Hospital Bern, Bern, Switzerland; and
  2. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Andreas R. Günthert, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cantonal Hospital of Lucerne, 6000 Lucerne, Switzerland. E-mail:


Objective To assess survival after groin recurrence in patients with vulvar cancer in the transition period of the implementation of the sentinel lymph node biopsy procedure. Recurrence of groin metastases in vulvar cancer patients is assumed to be lethal. It is unknown if early detection of relapse and multimodal treatment strategies improve the outcome of patients with groin recurrence.

Methods Multicenter retrospective cohort study of patients with recurrent vulvar cancer who presented with groin and/or pelvic lymph node metastases between 2000 and 2014 at 3 tertiary referral hospitals. Our primary outcome was to assess survival after groin recurrence of vulvar cancer and the influence of multimodal treatment. All analyses were done using Stata 12 (Stata Corporation, College Station, Tex). Hazard ratios (HRs) and their corresponding 95% confidence intervals were calculated using a Cox proportional hazards model.

Results We identified 30 patients with a median time from diagnosis to groin recurrence of 10 months. The median follow-up of patients who were alive at the time of analysis was 22 months (range, 9–123 months). A Kaplan-Meier estimate showed an overall survival rate of 50% after 7 years. Patients with multimodal groin relapse treatment performed better than those with single-mode treatment (HR, 0.25; P = 0.037). Lymph node metastases at diagnosis were also associated with lower survival (HR, 6.11; P = 0.020). We observed a trend toward lower survival with a tumor size greater than T1 (HR, 2.55; P = 0.111). The time from diagnosis to groin recurrence had no influence on survival (HR, 0.99; P = 0.561).

Conclusions Close follow-up visits for at least 2 years are important to detect recurrent disease in groin and pelvic lymph nodes. Treatment of recurrent groin metastases should no longer be considered as a palliative situation—given that one half of the patients will have long-term survival after multimodal treatment strategies.

  • Groin recurrence
  • Sentinel node
  • Vulvar cancer

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  • Janine N. Frey and Andreas R. Günthert are now with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cantonal Hospital of Lucerne, Lucerne, Switzerland.

  • The authors declare no conflicts of interest.