What are the Stages of Vulvar Cancer?

The stage of cancer tells how much and how far the disease has spread. By using exams and tests, a doctor can tell the stage of a person's vulvar cancer. A cancer's stage is one of the most important factors in deciding what treatment to have for the cancer. Stage 0 or carcinoma in situ is a very early lesion. The lesion is found only in the surface of the skin. This stage is also called carcinoma in situ.

Invasive vulvar cancer is staged as follows:

  • Stage I. In Stage I, cancer is found only in the vulva and/or the space between the opening of the rectum and the vagina (called the perineum). The tumor is about 3/4 inch or less (2 cm) in size and the lymph glands do not contain cancer.

  • Stage II. In Stage II, cancer is found in the vulva and/or the space between the opening of the rectum and the vagina (the perineum) and the tumor is larger than 3/4 inch (over 2 cm).

  • Stage III. In Stage III, cancer is found in the vulva and/or perineum (the space between the opening of the rectum and vagina) and has spread to nearby tissues such as the lower part of the urethra (the tube through which urine passes), the vagina, the anus (the opening of the rectum), and/or has spread to nearby groin lymph nodes.

  • Stage IV. In Stage IV, cancer has spread beyond the urethra, vagina, and anus into the lining of the bladder (the sac that holds urine) and the bowel (intestine), or it may have spread to lymph nodes in both sides of the pelvis, the groin, or to other parts of the body.

  • Recurrent. Recurrent cancer means that the cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated. It may come back in the vulva or another place.

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