Vulvar cancers in women with vulvar lichen planus: a clinicopathological study

Sigrid Regauer, Olaf Reich, Barbara Eberz
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2014, 71 (4): 698-707

BACKGROUND: Vulvar squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) arising in association with vulvar lichen planus (LP) are poorly documented.

OBJECTIVES: We sought to present clinicopathological features of 38 patients (median age 61 years, range 39-90 years) with LP-associated vulvar SCCs.

METHODS: Evaluated were location of vulvar SCC and metastases at presentation, recurrences, survival, precursor lesions, presence of human papillomavirus DNA, p16ink4a, and p53 expression.

RESULTS: In all, 32 solitary (5 pT1a, 20 pT1b, 7 pT2) and 6 multifocal SCCs, located in the vestibulum (n=20) and in nonhair-bearing modified and glycogenated mucosa (n=18), arose in erosive (n=13) and nonerosive (n=25) LP. All SCCs were human papillomavirus DNA and p16ink4a negative. Sixteen of 38 (42%) women had inguinal metastases at presentation. Treatment was surgery with clear margins (36/38) and chemoradiation (2/38). Fourteen of 36 (39%) surgically treated patients developed between 1 and 5 new SCCs in the residual diseased mucosa. Of all recurrences, 68% developed within 12 months via precursors revealing various histologic features including elongated, but also flat rete ridges, basaloid and hypertrophic differentiation with inconsistent p53 expression. Fourteen of 38 (37%) patients died of SCCs.

LIMITATIONS: Retrospective study and lack of a standardized treatment protocols are limitations.

CONCLUSION: LP-associated SCCs were located in nonhair-bearing vulvar mucosa. Patients had a high rate of inguinal metastases, recurrent vulvar cancers in diseased mucosa, and disease-related death.

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