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Conditions We Treat: Vaginal and Vulvar Cancers

Radiation therapy may be used to manage localized vaginal and vulvar cancers. For most patients, a combination of internal and external radiation techniques may be the most effective. A low-dose, sensitizing chemotherapy may be given to enhance the effects of radiation. Backed by innovative research, Johns Hopkins radiation oncologists have the specialized expertise and targeted radiation technologies needed to treat vaginal and vulvar cancers carefully and effectively.

Vaginal and Vulvar Cancers: Why Choose Johns Hopkins

vulvar cancer ratiation scan

Figure 1: Treatment for vaginal cancer requires careful avoidance of the bladder using IMRT techniques combined with MR-based brachytherapy.

  • Specialized clinical expertise: Since vaginal and vulvar cancers are extremely rare and complex, they require specialized expertise to treat them effectively. Johns Hopkins has led a strategic initiative to recruit clinical leaders and promote innovation in gynecologic oncology. Our dedicated team of vaginal/vulvar and gynecologic physicians understands the unique anatomy and unique requirements involved in treating this area of the body.
  • Accurate imaging: Our radiation oncologists use a unique magnetic resonance (MR)-based system to provide high-accuracy images of the area, which enable more precisely targeted gynecologic cancer treatments. Johns Hopkins is the only health care system in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., region to offer the MR image-guided approaches.
  • Advanced research: Our innovative research enables faster and more efficient clinical treatment and improved care standards.
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Our Team of Vaginal and Vulvar Cancer Specialists

Our radiation oncologists use advanced radiation techniques to treat patients with vaginal and vulvar cancers.

Photo of Dr. Fariba Asrari, M.D.

Asrari, Fariba, M.D.

Director, Johns Hopkins Breast Center - Green Spring Station
Expertise, Disease and Conditions: Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), Bladder Cancer, Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer, Endometrial Cancer, Esophageal Cancer, Gynecologic Cancers, Lung Cancer, Lymphoma, Medical Oncology, Melanoma, Metastatic Bone Disease, Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Radiation Oncology, Rectal Cancer, Skin Cancer, Small Cell Lung Cancer, Squameous Cell Carcinoma, Testicular Cancer, Vulvar Cancer
Photo of Dr. Victoria Jane Croog, M.D.

Croog, Victoria Jane, M.D.

Department of Radiation Oncology, Sibley Memorial Hospital
Expertise, Disease and Conditions: Brain Cancer, Brain Metastases, Breast Cancer, CNS Autoimmune/Inflammatory Disorders, Gastrointestinal Cancers, Gynecologic Cancers, Primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma, Radiation Oncology, Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy
Photo of Dr. Susan Fletcher Stinson, M.D.

Stinson, Susan Fletcher, M.D.

Medical Director, Suburban Hospital Cancer Program
Expertise, Disease and Conditions: Breast Cancer, Grave's Obitopathy, Gynecologic Cancers, Keloids, Radiation Oncology
Photo of Dr. Akila Ninette Viswanathan, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc.

Viswanathan, Akila Ninette, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc.

Professor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences
Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Professor of Oncology
Interim Director, Johns Hopkins Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences
Director of National Capital Region, Johns Hopkins Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences
Director of Johns Hopkins Gynecological Radiation Oncology
Expertise, Disease and Conditions: Brachytherapy, Gynecologic Cancers, Gynecologic Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Uterine Cancer

Our Vaginal and Vulvar Cancer Treatments

Our radiation oncologists use the following radiation therapies to treat vaginal and vulvar cancers.

vulvar cancer scan

Figure 2: Vulvar cancer is treated using a combination of precise radiation and chemotherapy.

  • External radiation: Techniques that are highly targeted to the shape of the cancer, including MR-based simulation
  • Internal radiation (brachytherapy):
    • Complex brachytherapy involving advanced imaging techniques to precisely locate the tumor
    • Multichannel cylinder
    • Interstitial techniques (radioactive catheters placed in the tumor)

Our Research

Gloved hand injecting liquid sample into test tube
  • Johns Hopkins researchers have a patient-research agreement that allows them to acquire tissue biopsies from tumors to study the genetic aspects of gynecologic cancers. The results could impact future cancer treatment and care standards.
  • Our researchers are investigating the use of MR-based tracking to enhance the placement strategy for brachytherapy catheters.
  • Our researchers are studying several options for improving spacer placement during brachytherapy. (A spacer is used to separate the rectum from the vagina during brachytherapy, allowing the physician to separate the normal tissue from the cancerous tissue.)
  • Our researchers have been investigating how antibody-based radiation therapy can be used for the imaging and treatment of salivary gland cancers, which are very resistant to conventional radiation. 

Our Locations

Johns Hopkins Hospital

With convenient locations throughout the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region, we make it easy for you to get the radiation treatment you need to manage vaginal or vulvar cancer.

  • The Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Health Care & Surgery Center – Green Spring Station
  • Sibley Memorial Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Health Care & Surgery Center – Bethesda 

Learn more about our locations.

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