Vaginal cancer facts

  • Vaginal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the vagina. Vaginal cancer is not common. When found in the early stages, it can often be cured.
  • There are two main types of vaginal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
  • Risk factors for vaginal cancer include being aged 60 or older, being exposed to DES while in the mother’s womb, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, and having a history of abnormal cells in the cervix or cervical cancer.
  • Symptoms of vaginal cancer include bleeding or discharge not related to menstrual periods, pain during sexual intercourse, pain in the pelvic area, and a lump in the vagina.
  • To diagnose vaginal cancer, a doctor may do a pelvic exampap smear, biopsy, or colposcopy.
  • Treatment for vaginal cancer includes surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
  • The prognosis depends on the stage of cancer and whether it has spread, the size of the tumor, the grade of tumor cells, where the cancer is within the vagina, whether there are symptoms, the patient’s age, and general health, and whether cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred.
  • Signs and symptoms of vaginal cancer include pain or abnormal vaginal bleeding.

    Vaginal cancer often does not cause early signs or symptoms. It may be found during a routine pelvic exam and Pap test. Signs and symptoms may be caused by vaginal cancer or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:

    • Bleeding or discharge not related to menstrual periods.
    • Pain during sexual intercourse.
    • Pain in the pelvic area.
    • A lump in the vagina.
    • Pain when urinating.

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