The vagina, also called the birth canal, is a muscular tunnel connecting the uterus to the outside of a women's body. Vaginal cancer can occur when malignant cells form in the muscular tissue of the vagina.
Vaginal cancer is very rare and usually occurs in women who are older than 60. Women may also be at risk if their mothers took a drug called DES (diethylstilbestrol), a drug prescribed during the 1960's to prevent miscarriages. Other risks may include carrying the human papilloma, (HPV), or having a previous abnormal Pap smear.
There are not usually noticeable symptoms of vaginal cancer. However,some women do experience symptoms. These may include:
If vaginal cancer is caught in its early stages, it is very treatable and outcomes can be excellent. If there is a concern, or a biopsy comes back with possible signs of cancer, you will be referred to a gynecological oncologist.
When evaluated for vaginal cancer, your doctor will take a complete medical and family history as well as perform a pelvic exam to examine the organs of the female reproductive tract for any changes in size or shape. The following tests may be ordered by your doctor to fully evaluate you for vaginal cancer:
If cancer is found in the biopsy, then your doctor will create an individualized treatment plan for you
Treatment for vaginal cancer may include:
Last Updated: 7/15/2013