Learn About Vaginal Cancer

What is the definition of Vaginal Cancer?

Vaginal cancer is cancer of the vagina, a female reproductive organ.

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What are the alternative names for Vaginal Cancer?

Vaginal cancer; Cancer - vagina; Tumor - vaginal

What are the causes of Vaginal Cancer?

Most vaginal cancers occur when another cancer, such as cervical, vulvar, or endometrial cancer, spreads. This is called secondary vaginal cancer.

Cancer that starts in the vagina is called primary vaginal cancer. This type of cancer is rare. Most primary vaginal cancers start in skin-like cells called squamous cells. This cancer is known as squamous cell carcinoma. The other types include:

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Melanoma
  • Sarcoma

The cause of squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina is unknown. But a history of cervical cancer is common in women with squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina. So it may be associated with human papilloma virus (HPV) infection.

Most women with squamous cell cancer of the vagina are over 50.

Adenocarcinoma of the vagina tends to affect younger women. The average age at which this cancer is diagnosed is 19. Women whose mothers took the medicine diethylstilbestrol (DES) to prevent miscarriages during the first 3 months of pregnancy are more likely to develop vaginal adenocarcinoma.

Sarcoma of the vagina is a rare cancer that mainly occurs in infancy and early childhood.

What are the symptoms of Vaginal Cancer?

Symptoms of vaginal cancer can include any of the following:

  • Bleeding after having sex
  • Painless vaginal bleeding and discharge not due to normal period
  • Pain in the pelvis or vagina

Some women have no symptoms.

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What are the current treatments for Vaginal Cancer?

Treatment of vaginal cancer depends on:

  • The type of cancer
  • How far the disease has spread

Surgery is sometimes used if the cancer is small and located at the upper part of the vagina. Most women are treated with radiation. If the tumor is cervical cancer that has spread to the vagina, radiation and chemotherapy are both given.

Sarcoma may be treated with a combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.

Who are the top Vaginal Cancer Local Doctors?
Elite
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What are the support groups for Vaginal Cancer?

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group whose members share common experiences and problems.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Vaginal Cancer?

The outlook for women with vaginal cancer depends on the size and the stage of disease and the specific type of tumor.

What are the possible complications of Vaginal Cancer?

Vaginal cancer may spread to other areas of the body. Complications can occur from radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy.

When should I contact a medical professional for Vaginal Cancer?

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:

  • You notice bleeding after sex
  • You have persistent vaginal bleeding or discharge
How do I prevent Vaginal Cancer?

There are no definite ways to prevent this cancer.

The HPV vaccine is approved to help prevent cervical cancer. This vaccine may also decrease the risk of getting some other HPV-associated cancers, such as vaginal cancer. You can increase your chance of early detection by getting regular pelvic examinations and Pap smears.

Female reproductive anatomy
Uterus
Normal uterine anatomy (cut section)
What are the latest Vaginal Cancer Clinical Trials?
Longitudinal Evaluation of Women Undergoing Pelvic Exenteration for Treatment of Gynecologic Malignancy
Summary: The study investigates whether certain characteristics of gynecological cancer can help researchers predict how well a patient recovers from surgery to remove the lower colon, rectum, and bladder, and create openings through which urine and stool are passed out of the body (pelvic exenteration). Comparing the types of surgery completed and procedures used may help researchers to determine which ar...
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The LATENT Trial: Lytic Activation To Enhance Neoantigen-directed Therapy A Study to Evaluate the Feasibility and Efficacy of the Combined Use of Avelumab With Valproic Acid for the Treatment of Virus-associated Cancer
Summary: Up to 20% of all cancers may be associated with a bacterial or viral infection. In some instances, the infection may be one of the reasons why the cancer developed in the first place. One such example is infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV) and the development of cervical or oral cavity cancer.~A viral infection that is chronic may not cause a person symptoms, and may be able to escape d...
What are the Latest Advances for Vaginal Cancer?
Clinical analysis of 23 cases with simultaneous double primary gynecological malignant tumors.
Summary: Clinical analysis of 23 cases with simultaneous double primary gynecological malignant tumors.
Phase 3, long-term, open-label extension period of safety and efficacy of belimumab in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus in China, for up to 6 years.
Summary: Phase 3, long-term, open-label extension period of safety and efficacy of belimumab in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus in China, for up to 6 years.
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Definitive chemoradiation or radiation therapy alone for the management of vulvar cancer.
Summary: Definitive chemoradiation or radiation therapy alone for the management of vulvar cancer.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: January 01, 2022
Published By: Howard Goodman, MD, Gynecologic Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Bodurka DC, Frumovitz M. Malignant diseases of the vagina: intraepithelial neoplasia, carcinoma, sarcoma. In: Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 31.

Jhingran A, Russell AH, Seiden MV, et al. Cancers of the cervix, vulva, and vagina. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 84.

PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board. Vaginal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Health Professional Version. 2022 Feb 24. In: PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Cancer Institute (US); 2002–. PMID: 26389242 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26389242/.