Vaginal Cancer

What is Vaginal Cancer ?

The vagina or birth canal is the opening through which menstrual blood leaves a woman’s body and babies are born. Vaginal cancer begins when healthy cells in the vagina change and grow out of control. Vaginal cancer is an uncommon cancer of the female reproductive system.

What Are The Possible Risk Factors For Developing Vaginal Cancer ?

  • Age: most often occurs in women between 50 and 70 years old
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Smoking
  • Women who have had cervix cancer or cervical precancerous conditions have an increased risk of vaginal cancer.

What Are The Symptoms Of Vaginal Cancer:

  • Abnormal Vaginal discharge
  • Difficulty or pain when urinating
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Pain in the back or legs
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Abnormal bowel function

Stages Of Vaginal Cancer

Stage I: The tumor is only in the vagina. It has not spread through the vaginal wall or to other parts of the body.

Stage II: The tumor has spread through the vaginal wall but not to the walls of the pelvis.

Stage III: Either cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the pelvis or has spread to the pelvic wall.

Stage IVA: Cancer has spread to the Bladder, rectum, or beyond the pelvis. The lymph nodes may or may not be involved.

Stage IVB: Cancer has spread to a distant part of the body.

How Is Vaginal Cancer Diagnosed ?

In addition to a physical examination, the following tests may be used to diagnose vaginal cancer:

  • Pelvic examination
  • Pap test
  • Colposcopy
  • Biopsy
  • CT
  • MRI
  • PET CT scan

How Is Vaginal Cancer Treated ?

Base on the stage and extent of the disease, the treatment for vaginal cancer could involve

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therap
  • Chemotherapy

Usually the stage wise treatment can be as follows

Treatment for Stages I and II

  • Surgical removal of the tumor, including part or all of the vagina and possible removal of pelvic lymph nodes, and in selected patients, followed by radiation therapy with or without low-dose chemotherapy
  • Internal radiation therapy with or without external-beam radiation therapy

Treatment For Stages III And IVA

  • Combined internal radiation therapy and external-beam radiation therapy, often with concurrent low-dose chemotherapy
  • Systemic chemotherapy in selected patientss

Treatment For Stage IVB

  • Radiation therapy
  • Systemic chemotherapy