Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Diagnosis and staging

How is vulvar cancer diagnosed?

The diagnosis of vulvar cancer is confirmed by a biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure in which tissue samples are removed from the body for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

Stages of vulvar cancer

The stage is determined by the size of the tumor and involvement (or lack thereof) of the lymph nodes.

  • Stage I - Tumor is smaller than an inch and lymph nodes are negative.
  • Stage II - Tumor measures 1 to 2 inches and lymph nodes are negative.
  • Stage III - Tumor involves the urethra, vagina or rectum, or lymph nodes in the groin on the same side of the body as the tumor are involved.
  • Stage IV - Involvement of groin lymph nodes or pelvic area, or spread elsewhere.