OBJECTIVE: In this study, we investigated if the presence of histologically abnormal epithelium adjacent to the primary tumour influenced the frequency, timing, and topography of local vulvar recurrences (LVR) following treatment for squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva (VSCC).
METHODS: The study population comprised a cohort of 201 consecutive cases with incident VSCC. LVR were categorised as local relapses (LR) if they occurred <2cm from the tumour margins, and as second field tumours (SFT) when ≥2cm from these margins. Univariable and multivariable competing risk modelling was performed to identify the prognostic factors associated with local disease recurrence.
RESULTS: The characterization of the epithelium adjacent to the invasive component was possible for 199 (99.0%) patients. Of these, 171 (85.9%) were found to have intraepithelial abnormalities found adjacent to the surgical specimen. Multivariable analyses revealed that, following adjustment, Lichen Sclerosis (LS) was associated with an increase in the incidence of LVR, LR and SFT (SHRs: 3.4, 2.7 and 4.4, respectively). Although the incidence of LR and SFT in women with LS associated VSCC was similar, the peak incidence of SFT occurred more than two years before that of LR.
CONCLUSIONS: Women with VSCC arising in a field of LS may continue to have an increased risk of developing LR and SFT for many years after resection of their primary tumour. Our study suggests that these women should be followed up more regularly so that LVR can be detected earlier; unless a more robust surveillance programme or chemopreventative treatments become available.