Staging and prognosis for vulvar cancer
Based on the test results, your doctor will be able to tell you the stage of the vulvar cancer. This is a way to describe its size and whether it has spread from the vulva to other parts of the body. In Australia, vulvar cancer is usually staged using the staging system from the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).
Your doctor may also tell you the grade of the cancer cells. This gives you an idea of how quickly the cancer may grow. Low-grade (grade 1) cancer cells are slow-growing and less likely to spread. High-grade (grade 3) cells look more abnormal, and are more likely to grow and spread quickly.
Knowing the stage and grade of the cancer helps your health care team recommend the most appropriate treatment for you.
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|stage I||Cancer is found only in the vulva or perineum.|
|stage II||Cancer is found in the vulva and/or perineum and has also spread to the lower urethra, the lower vagina or the anus.|
|stage III||Cancer is found in the vulva and/or perineum and in lymph nodes of the groin (it can be stage III whether or not it has spread to the urethra, vagina or anus).|
|stage IV||Cancer has spread to the upper urethra, upper vagina or more distant parts of the body.|
Prognosis means the expected outcome of a disease. You may wish to discuss your prognosis and treatment options with your doctor, but it is not possible for anyone to predict the exact course of the disease in an individual woman. Instead your doctor can give you an idea about the general prognosis for women with the same type and stage of vulvar cancer.
In most cases, the earlier vulvar cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances of successful treatment. To work out your prognosis, your doctor will consider your test results; the type of vulvar cancer you have; the stage and grade of the cancer; whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes; and other factors such as your age, fitness and overall health. In some cases, the doctor will not have enough information to assess prognosis until after the surgery to remove the cancer.
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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