Vulvar cancer

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Survival statistics for vulvar cancer

Survival statistics for vulvar cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for vulvar cancer and what they mean to you.

Net survival

Net survival represents the probability of surviving cancer in the absence of other causes of death. It is used to give an estimate of the percentage of people who will survive their cancer.

In Canada, 5-year net survival statistics for vulvar cancer are included in a group called other female genital organ cancers, which includes similar cancers that are grouped and reported together. This statistic does not necessarily reflect the actual survival for the individual cancers within the group.

The 5-year net survival rate for other female genital organ cancers is 59%. This means that about 59% of women diagnosed with other female genital organ cancer will survive at least 5 years.

Survival by stage

Survival varies with each stage of vulvar cancer. Generally, the earlier vulvar cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.

Survival by stage of vulvar cancer is reported as 5-year relative survival. Relative survival looks at how likely people with cancer are to survive after their diagnosis compared to people in the general population who do not have cancer, but who share similar characteristics (such as age and sex).

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of vulvar cancer. The following information comes from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) program. SEER does not list survival rates by FIGO stage but uses 3 summary stages:

Localized means the cancer is only in the vulva and is like FIGO stages 1and 2.

Regional means the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissues and is like FIGO stages 3 and 4A.

Distant means the cancer has spread to distant organs and is like FIGO stage 4B.

Vulvar cancer survival
Stage5-year relative survival

Localized

86%

Regional

57%

Distant

17%

Questions about survival

Talk to your doctor about your prognosis. A prognosis depends on many factors, including:

your health history

  • the type of cancer
  • the stage
  • certain characteristics of the cancer
  • the treatments chosen
  • how the cancer responds to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

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