Objective: The comparison of the radical and conservative surgical approaches for vulvar carcinoma in relation to the rate of recurrence and complications. Methods: The records of invasive vulvar carcinoma cases were retrospectively reviewed in İstanbul University, Cerrahpaşa School of Medicine, Gynecologic Oncology Division and Social Insurance Institution, Ankara Maternity Hospital, Gynecologic Oncology Department. Surgically treated cases with squamous histology were divided into radical vulvectomy and conservative procedures groups and were compared with respect to recurrence, complications, and disease-free survival. Results: One hundred thirteen cases of invasive vulvar carcinoma cases were of squamous histopathology and 92 of these were surgically treated. The rate of local recurrence was lower in the radical vulvectomy group (25%) compared to conservative procedures groups (42.5%; p>0.05). The complication rates were comparable between the radical vulvectomy and conservative procedures groups (32.7% versus 35%, respectively; p>0.05). At the end of five years of the follow-up, the disease-free survival rates were 51.5% in radical vulvectomy group versus 35.7% in conservative procedures group (p>0.05). Conclusion: The rate of recurrence, complication, and disease-free survival are similar for the radical vulvectomy and the conservative procedures. Deciding the surgical strategy for vulvar carcinoma should depend on the experience of the surgeon for the short-term adequate results. © 2004 International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.