Advanced vulvar cancer
When vulvar cancer has spread into surrounding tissues or other parts of the body, it is considered stage 4 and is called advanced or metastatic vulvar cancer.
Cancer that has metastasised keeps the name of the original, primary cancer, so the cancer will still be called vulvar cancer even if it has spread to your liver, for example. In some cases, vulvar cancer is advanced when it comes back after treatment (recurrence).
To control the cancer, slow its growth and manage symptoms such as pain, you may have palliative treatment.
Read more about the emotional and physical aspects of advanced cancer, or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
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Palliative treatment helps to improve people’s quality of life by managing the symptoms of cancer without trying to cure the disease. It is best thought of as supportive care. Many people think that palliative treatment is only for people at the end of their life, but it may help at any stage of advanced vulvar cancer. It is about living for as long as possible in the most comfortable way you can.
As well as slowing the spread of cancer, palliative treatment can relieve symptoms such as pain or bleeding. Treatment may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy or other drug therapies.
Palliative treatment is one aspect of palliative care, in which a team of health professionals aims to meet your physical, emotional, cultural, social and spiritual needs.
Video: What is palliative care?
Find out how palliative treatment aims to manage symptoms and improve people’s quality of life without trying to cure the disease.
Podcast for people affected by advanced cancer
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
A/Prof Alison Brand, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Ellen Barlow, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Royal Hospital for Women, NSW; Jane Conroy-Wright, Consumer; Rebecca James, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Suparna Karpe, Clinical Psychologist, Gynaecological Oncology, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Dr Pearly Khaw, Consultant Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Sally McCoull, Consumer; A/Prof Orla McNally, Gynaecological Oncologist and Director, Oncology/Dysplasia, The Royal Women’s Hospital, and Director, Gynaecology Tumour Stream,Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, VIC; Haley McNamara, Social Worker and Project Manager, Care at End of Life Project, Queensland Health, QLD; Tamara Wraith, Senior Clinician – Physiotherapy, The Royal Women’s Hospital, VIC.
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