Effect of age and comorbidity on the treatment and survival of older patients with vulvar cancer

Rahel G. Ghebre, Rebecca Posthuma, Rachel Isaksson Vogel, Melissa A. Geller, Linda F. Carson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the disease characteristics and comorbidities predictive of vulvar cancer specific mortality and five year overall survival among older women, ages 65 and above. Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted of women diagnosed with vulvar cancer at a single regional cancer center from 1989 to 2003, with a follow up to 2009. Treatment records were extracted for: demographics and treatment information, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status and Charlson comorbidity index score. Probability of death from vulvar cancer was estimated using cumulative incidence, treating death by other known and unknown causes as competing risks. Predictors of overall survival were determined using multivariate Cox regression analyses. Results: One hundred forty-six women were identified, with a median age at diagnosis of 79 years (range 65-95). Median follow up was 5.0 years (range 0.1-16.7 years). The cumulative incidence of vulvar cancer-specific mortality was 13% (95% CI: 0.08-0.19) at year one, 24% (95% CI: 0.17-0.31) at year three and 26% (95% CI: 0.19-0.33) at year five. Use of adjuvant therapy or surgical procedure performed did not differ by age at diagnosis (p = 0.807 and 0.663) according to age group (65-74, 74-84 and 85+). Increasing age, Charlson comorbidity index score, lymph node involvement and type of surgery performed were associated with increased risk of death from any cause (all p < 0.05). Conclusion: Among women aged ≥ 65, vulvar cancer specific mortality was most significant in the first three years after diagnosis. Conversely other causes of mortality which can be attributed to comorbid conditions steadily increased with time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)595-599
Number of pages5
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health to R. Ghebre, from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development ( K12HD055887 ). This work was supported in part by NIH P30 CA77598 utilizing the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core.


  • Comorbidity
  • Treatment outcome
  • Vulvar cancer


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