Objectives To identify molecular alterations that contribute to vulvar cancer pathogenesis with the intent of identifying molecular targets for treatment. Methods After retrospective analysis of a database of molecularly-profiled gynecologic cancer patients, 149 vulvar cancer patients were included and tested centrally at a CLIA laboratory (Caris Life Sciences, Phoenix, AZ). Tests included one or more of the following: gene sequencing (Sanger or next generation sequencing [NGS]), protein expression (immunohistochemistry [IHC]), and gene amplification (C/FISH). A Fisher's exact test was used when indicated with a p-value ≤ 0.05 indicating significance. Results Median age was 65. 85% had squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and 15% adenocarcinoma (ADC) histologies. 46% had metastatic (Stage IV) disease. Targeted hot-spot sequencing identified variants in the following genes: TP53 (33%), PIK3CA/BRCA2 (8%, 10%, respectively), HRAS/FBXW7 (5%, 4%, respectively) and ERBB4/GNAS (3%, 3% respectively). Mutations in AKT1, ATM, FGFR2, KRAS, NRAS (n = 1, respectively) and BRAF (n = 2) also occurred. Specific protein changes for targetable genes included clinically pathogenic mutations commonly found in other cancers (e.g. PIK3CA: exon 9 [E545K], RAS: G13D, Q61L, BRCA2: S1667X, BRAF: R443T, FBXW7: E471fs, etc.). Drug targets identified by IHC and ISH methodologies include cMET (32% IHC, 2% ISH), PDL1 (18%), PTEN loss (56%), HER2 (4% IHC, 2% ISH) and hormone receptors (AR, 4%; ER, 11%; PR, 4%). Comparisons between SCC and ADC identified differential rates for AR, ER, HER2 and GNAS with an increased presence in ADC (p-values all < 0.05). Conclusions Molecularly-guided precision medicine could provide vulvar cancer patients alternative, targeted treatment options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-313
Number of pages9
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • Molecular alterations
  • Molecular targets
  • Targeted therapy
  • Vulvar cancer


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