Aims and objectives. This paper examines the evidence available regarding the physical, psychological and sexual consequences for women following a diagnosis and treatment for cancer of the vulva.
Background. Cancer of the vulva is a rare condition affecting approximately 1000 women in the UK each year. However, little is known about the impact of the condition as there is a limited research base to inform clinical practice.
Method. This paper critiques the 15 studies identified in the English language literature relating to carcinoma of the vulva from 1983 to the present. Collectively these involved less than 400 women with this condition.
Results. The review highlighted a paucity of published studies on this patient group. There are weaknesses in the design and analytical methods of the studies and a lack of clarity in the analysis of the published data. However, the review has enabled a picture to be built up of the challenges these women face postoperatively. The lack of recent evidence to support care practices offers limited help in contemporary health care today.
Conclusion. There is a clear need for further research to explore the issues for women facing treatment for carcinoma vulva.
Relevance to clinical practice. An awareness of the issues facing women following a diagnosis and subsequent treatment, usually surgery, for cancer of the vulva will allow nurses and other health care professionals to have a greater understanding of the needs of these women and thus impact on care planning.