Article Text

Download PDFPDF
605 Quality of life, vulvar symptoms and sexual health in Norwegian vulvar cancer survivors compared to the general population
  1. Christin Julia Meltzer-Gunnes1,2,
  2. Milada Cvancarova Småstuen2,3 and
  3. Ingvild Vistad1,2
  1. 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Sorlandet Hospital HF, Kristiansand, Norway
  2. 2Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  3. 3Department of Nursing and Health Promotion, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo, Norway


Introduction/Background Patients treated for vulvar cancer (VC) are at risk of experiencing impaired quality of life (QoL) and sexual functioning. However, studies on QoL and sexual health among VC survivors are scarce. Our aim was to assess QoL in a cohort of Norwegian VC survivors > 5 years after treatment. Vulvar symptoms and sexual health were compared to the general Norwegian population (GenPop).

Methodology Patients treated for FIGO stage I-III VC at the Norwegian Radium Hospital from 2006–2016 were invited. QoL and vulvar symptoms were assessed with the EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-VU34. To generate GenPop data, the QLQ-VU34 was distributed to a large cohort of Norwegian women with no prior history of cancer. Sum scores were calculated for the QLQ-C30 and compared to ’thresholds of clinical importance’ (TCIs). For all QLQ-VU34 items, the percentages of women reporting ’quite a bit/very much’ symptoms were reported.

Results In total, 44/77 (57%) VC survivors completed the questionnaires. Median age was 64 (41–91) years. 334 GenPop controls ≥ 40 years were included. Especially VC survivors aged 60–69 years reported scores below/above TCI, implying clinically relevant problems, for impaired physical (reported by 46%) and emotional function (46%), fatigue (46%), pain (55%) and insomnia (46%). Overall, a higher proportion of VC survivors reported vulvar symptoms and impaired sexual functioning, compared to the GenPop (figure 1). All VC survivors aged 60–69 years reported ’quite a bit/very much’ regarding vulvar itching, pain, sore skin, skin tears, narrowing of the introitus, tight skin and difficulties sitting, worried about sex being painful and experienced vaginal narrowness.

Conclusion VC survivors reported impaired QoL, even years after treatment. Vulvar complaints and impaired sexual functioning were more common than in the GenPop. Awareness of the challenges VC survivors face might help improve their QoL and sexual health.

Disclosures The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.