vulval carcinoma

Last edited 05/2019 and last reviewed 08/2020

Invasive vulvar cancer is uncommon.

Approximately 1300 cases are reported annually in England and Wales (1).

In females in the UK, vulval cancer is not among the 20 most common cancers, with around 1,300 new cases in 2015.

Vulval cancer accounts for less than 1% of all new cancer cases in females in the UK (2015).

Incidence rates for vulval cancer in the UK are highest in females aged 90+ (2013-2015)

  • vulval cancer incidence is strongly related to age, with the highest incidence rates being in older women
  • in the UK in 2013-2015, on average each year more than 4 in 10 (44%) of new cases were in females aged 75 and over
  • age-specific incidence rates rise steadily from around age 35-39 and more steeply from around age 65-69
  • highest rates are in the 90+ age group.

Since the early 1990s, vulval cancer incidence rates have increased by a sixth (17%) in females in the UK.

Over the last decade, vulval cancer incidence rates have increased by around a tenth (11%) in females in the UK.

Vulval cancer in England is more common in females living in the most deprived areas.

Approximately ninety percent are squamous cell carcinoma. The majority occur in the elderly with a median age of 60 years.

  • squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a predominating malignancy at this site as it accounts for approximately 90 % of vulvar cancers
  • other 10% includes melanomas, sarcomas, basal cell carcinomas Open a glossary item and adenocarcinomas

Standard treatment for early disease consists of wide radical excision of the primary tumor with sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy and/or inguinal lymphadenectomy.

Advanced disease is often managed with adjuvant/neoadjuvant radiation and/or chemotherapy


  • CRUK. Vulval cancer statistics (Accessed 29/5/19)
  • Ansink AC, Heintz AP. Epidemiology and etiology of squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1993;48:111-115.
  • Beller U, Quinn MA, Benedet JL, Creasman WT, Ngan HY, Maisonneuve P, Pecorelli S, Odicino F, Heintz AP. Carcinoma of the vulva. In J Gynaecol Obstet. 2006;95:S7-S27.