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Postoperative Radiation May Be Beneficial in Vulvar Cancer

Last Updated: August 24, 2009.

In patients with groin node-positive vulvar cancer who have undergone radical vulvectomy and inguinal lymphadenectomy, postoperative radiation is associated with a significantly lower rate of cancer-related death than postoperative pelvic node resection, according to a study in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

MONDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with groin node-positive vulvar cancer who have undergone radical vulvectomy and inguinal lymphadenectomy, postoperative radiation is associated with a significantly lower rate of cancer-related death than postoperative pelvic node resection, according to a study in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Charles Kunos, M.D., of the University Hospitals of Cleveland, and colleagues randomly assigned 114 patients (median age, 70 years) to receive either postoperative pelvic and groin radiation or ipsilateral pelvic node resection.

After six years, the researchers found that the radiation group had a significantly lower cancer-related death rate than the pelvic node resection group (29 versus 51 percent). They also found that radiation was associated with a significantly lower number of local relapses and that rates of late toxicities were similar in both groups.

"This update of Gynecologic Oncology Group #37 provides a new objective indication for groin and pelvic radiation when greater than 20 percent ipsilateral groin nodes are present because radiation significantly benefits treatment-related survival," the authors conclude. "Long-term analysis of treatment-related toxicities shows similar rates of chronic skin and lymphedema complications after radiation or pelvic node resection."

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