Vaginal cancer is a very rare gynecologic cancer that refers to cancer that originates in the vagina. Early stage vaginal cancer may present with bleeding or may be found on routine gynecologic exam or a Pap smear, and the later stages may be associated with bleeding and pain.
Symptoms generally don’t occur during the early stages of vaginal cancer. Once the cancer progresses to the later stages, you might experience vaginal bleeding in between periods or after menopause, a lump or mass in the vagina, pelvic pain, pain while urinating, or constipation.
After a physical exam and discussion about your family medical history, your doctor may order blood tests to look for cancer markers in your blood. Your doctor may then order a colposcopy where the vagina is viewed with a microscope that can magnify the tissue. If cancer is suspected, a sample of the tissue may be removed and sent to a lab for further examination.
Treatment of vaginal cancer may involve surgery to remove part or all of the vagina. Sometimes a hysterectomy is also performed. In addition, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be indicated. Your team of medical professionals will create a treatment plan tailored to the specific location and stage of the cancer.
Vaginal cancer is curable. The earlier vaginal cancer is caught, the higher the rate of survival. The majority of patients can live for 5 years and beyond if the cancer is treated in the early stages. If you suspect you are at risk for vaginal cancer, talk to your doctor about your concerns.