Follow-up after treatment for vulvar cancer

Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Follow-up for vulvar cancer is often shared among different cancer specialists (oncologists), the surgeon and your family doctor. Your healthcare team will work with you to decide on follow-up care to meet your needs.

Don’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to report any new symptoms and symptoms that don’t go away. Tell your healthcare team if you have:

  • itching of the vulva
  • changes to the skin of the vulva
  • any new lump or swelling in the groin or pelvis
  • pain or bleeding

The chance that vulvar cancer will come back (recur) is greatest within 5 years, so you will need close follow-up during this time.

Schedule for follow-up visits

Follow-up visits for vulvar cancer are usually scheduled:

After surgery

  • every 3 to 4 months for the first 2 to 3 years
  • every 6 months for years 4 to 5
  • once a year after 5 years

After radiation therapy

  • after 1 month, every 3 to 4 months for the first 2 to 3 years
  • every 6 months for years 4 to 5
  • once a year after 5 years

During follow-up visits

During a follow-up visit, your healthcare team will usually ask questions about the side effects of treatment and how you’re coping.

Your doctor may do a physical exam, including:

  • a pelvic exam and a Pap test
  • examining the skin of the vulva and anus
  • feeling the lymph nodes in the groin and pelvis

Tests can be done as part of follow-up care. You may have:

  • a CT scan to see if cancer has spread to lymph nodes or organs in the pelvis or abdomen, such as the liver or bladder
  • a biopsy to check abnormal areas of the vulva
  • a chest x-ray to see if cancer has spread to the lungs

If the cancer has come back, you and your healthcare team will discuss a plan for your treatment and care.

Questions to ask about follow-up

To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about follow-up.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Vulvar Cancer. 2014:
  • BC Cancer Agency (BCCA) . Cancer Management Guidelines: Vulva .
  • Levine DA, Dizon DS, Yashar CM, Barakat RR, Berchuch A, Markman M, Randall ME. Handbook for Principles and Practice of Gynecologic Oncology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer; 2015.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

1-888-939-3333 | | © 2024 Canadian Cancer Society