Treatments for stage 3 vulvar cancer

The following are treatment options for stage 3 vulvar cancer. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.


Surgery is a main treatment for stage 3 vulvar cancer. The types of surgery are:

  • a wide local excision
  • a partial or complete radical vulvectomy
  • the removal of the lymph nodes from the same side of the groin as the cancer or both sides of the groin (inguinal lymph node dissection), depending on the location of the cancer

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is usually offered for stage 3 vulvar cancer. External beam radiation therapy is used:

  • with chemotherapy as the main treatment in women who cannot have surgery because of other health problems
  • before surgery, with or without chemotherapy, to shrink a tumour and make it easier to completely remove
  • after surgery to reduce the risk of the tumour coming back (recurring)


You may be offered chemotherapy with radiation therapy for stage 3 vulvar cancer. The types of chemotherapy drugs used are cisplatin and fluorouracil (5-fluorouracil or 5-FU, Efudex). This drug combination is used to help the radiation work better.

Clinical trials

Talk to your doctor about clinical trials open to women with vulvar cancer in Canada. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Vulvar Cancer. 2014:
  • Klopp AH, Eifel PJ, Berek JS, Konstantinopoulos PA . Cancer of the cervix, vagina and vulva. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 72:1013-1047.
  • 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.
  • National Cancer Institute. Vulvar Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) Health Professional Version. 2017: