Wide local excision, radical vulvectomy
and groin node dissection

• If you have a small vulval cancer, it may be removed under general anaesthetic in a procedure called wide local excision. A small amount of normal surrounding tissue is also removed. Unless the cancer is at a very early stage, the lymph glands in one or both groins are also removed.

• You may be monitored with vulvoscopy up to four times a year to check that the cancer has not returned.

• If the cancer is more advanced, an operation called radical vulvectomy and groin node dissection is usually required. This involves removing the entire vulva and the lymph glands in the groins. If necessary, the lower part of the urethra can be removed without affecting bladder function. The skin with the pubic hair is not normally removed.

• The operation is carried out under general anaesthetic, usually though separate cuts in the groins and around the vulva. The skin at the bottom of the vagina is stitched directly to the skin outside of the vulva. Tubes drain lymph fluid from the groin wounds for up to 10 days after surgery.

• Depending on the pathology report, you may require radiotherapy after the wounds have healed. You will be seen regularly at the clinic for at least 5-10 years. Penetrative sex is usually, but not always, possible after a radical vulvectomy. If not, reconstructive surgery may be possible at a later date.