Vulvar Cancer Surgery

Advanced and minimally invasive surgery and reconstruction options vulvar cancer.

Surgery is often an important step in treating vulvar cancer. Our surgeons are experts who have extensive experience and specialize in treating vulvar cancer.

If surgery is recommended, we will outline what to expect during your surgery, and provide detailed instructions to help you prepare for — and successfully recover from — your procedure.

Newly diagnosed? Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167 or request an appointment online.

Types of vulvar cancer surgery

At Henry Ford Cancer, our surgeons use innovative techniques for treating vulvar cancer, including minimally-invasive procedures. Small incisions, instead of large ones, will be made whenever possible. You will benefit from a faster recovery time, less discomfort, and a shorter stay in the hospital. 

Our tumor board will carefully evaluate your condition and determine the best approach. 

Surgery will depend on the exact location of the vulvar cancer and where it has spread. Our tumor board will carefully evaluate your condition and determine the best approach. 

  • Laser therapy or surgery involves using a narrow beam of high-energy light to vaporize (or burn off) precancerous tissue or non-invasive cancer. The laser beam makes bloodless cuts to remove cancerous tissue or a tumor.  
  • Partial or modified radical vulvectomy is done to remove part of the vulva and the deep tissue.
  • Sentinel lymph node surgery involves removing the lymph node that is mostly likely to contain cancer cells. Also, the lymph nodes in the groin area may be removed, depending on the stage of vulvar cancer. Our surgeons are experts in minimally invasive sentinel lymph node biopsy, a procedure that detects microscopic cancer cells that may have spread to the lymph nodes, making it possible to remove fewer lymph nodes.
  • Wide local incision, or simple partial vulvectomy, is a rare procedure that involves removing the top layer of diseased skin. 
  • Complete radical vulvectomy is a procedure that is rarely needed. It involves the removal of the entire vulva, the deep tissue under the skin, and the clitoris. 
  • Pelvic exenteration is done in extreme cases when vulvar cancer has spread. It includes the removal of the entire vulva, the deep tissue under the skin, and the clitoris. In addition, the pelvic lymph nodes may be removed along with one or more of these structures: the lower colon, rectum, bladder, uterus, cervix or vagina. 
  • Urostomy surgery is done when the bladder has been removed. A short piece of intestine may be used as a new bladder. Urine may be drained continually into a small plastic bag.
  • Colostomy is done if the rectum and part of the colon are removed. The surgery involves making an opening in the abdominal wall. The end of the colon (large intestine) is placed through the opening and an external bag is used. Sometimes an external bag is not needed, and the intestines can be reconnected after the damaged tissue has been removed. 

Vulvar reconstruction

Patients have the option to undergo vulvar reconstruction when a large area of skin from the vulva has been surgically removed. Often, the surgical wounds can be closed and will not require grafts. If a graft is required, it will be done by a highly skilled gynecologic oncologist or a plastic surgeon. 

Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167.


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