Review Article

Early Detection of Vulvovaginal Graft-Versus-Host Disease: An Integrative Review

Payton L. Ten Hagen, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, Christi Bowe, MSN, APRN, ANP-C, and Joyce E. Dains, DrPH, JD, APRN, FNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP

From The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas

Authors’ disclosures of conflicts of interest are found at the end of this article.

Correspondence to: Payton L. Ten Hagen, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030. E-mail: plten@mdanderson.org


J Adv Pract Oncol 2021;12(7):725–737 | https://doi.org/10.6004/jadpro.2021.12.7.6 | © 2021 Harborside™


  

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Vulvovaginal graft-vs.-host disease (VVGvHD) is a condition caused by a T-cell mounted immune response after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (alloHSCT), which can lead to sclerotic changes of the external genital organs. A common complication of alloHSCT, VVGvHD is underreported and underdiagnosed in female patients. Without detection and treatment, VVGvHD can progress to complete obliteration of the vaginal canal requiring surgical intervention in severe cases. Design: This review summarizes findings to assist providers in detecting and treating VVGvHD. It utilized PubMed, Scopus, and CINAHL databases. Inclusion criteria consisted of female patients, a history of stem cell transplantation, and a history of VVGvHD. Studies not published in English and dated more than 15 years were excluded. After the evaluation of 333 articles, 10 were included based on relevance and applicability. Limitations of this review included small sample sizes, retrospective nature of articles, and lack of randomized control trials. Findings: Early identification of VVGvHD requires identifying the rate of occurrence and risk factor profile, recognizing the presenting symptoms, improving VVGvHD assessment techniques, ascertaining when to biopsy, and establishing clinically targeted surveillance programs. Conclusion: For female patients who have undergone alloHSCT, targeted surveillance for early identification of VVGvHD results in earlier treatment initiation. Subsequently, this can improve sexual health, partner relationships, and quality of life in patients after stem cell transplant. 




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