Advanced vulvar cancer
Advanced vulvar cancer is vulvar cancer that has spread into the surrounding tissues or away from the original site (metastasised) and is less likely to be cured. It can often be treated to slow its growth and ongoing spread, sometimes for months or years. Treatment can also help reduce symptoms, such as pain.
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).
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 for people at the end of their life, but it may be beneficial at any stage of advanced vulvar cancer. It is about living for as long as possible in the most satisfying way you can.
Sometimes treatments such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy or other drug therapies are given palliatively. The aim is to help relieve symptoms such as pain or bleeding by shrinking or slowing the growth of cancer.
Palliative treatment is one aspect of palliative care, in which a team of health professionals aim to meet your physical, emotional, practical and spiritual needs.
Video: What is palliative care?
Prof Jonathan Carter, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and Professor of Gynaecological Oncology, The University of Sydney, NSW; Ellen Barlow, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Gynaecological Cancer Centre, The Royal Hospital for Women, NSW; Dr Dani Bullen, Clinical Psychologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Wendy Cram, Consumer; Dr Tiffany Daly, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Radiation Oncology Princess Alexandra Raymond Terrace (ROPART), South Brisbane, QLD; Kim Hobbs, Clinical Specialist Social Worker, Westmead Centre for Gynaecological Cancer, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Anya Traill, Head of Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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