Vaginal cancer forms in the tissues of the vagina, which leads from the cervix to the outside of the body.
The most common type of vaginal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which starts in the thin, flat cells lining the vagina. Another type of vaginal cancer is adenocarcinoma, cancer that begins in glandular cells in the lining of the vagina.
Surgery is the most common treatment of vaginal cancer. The following procedures may be used:
- Laser surgery to make bloodless cuts in tissue or to remove a surface tumor.
- Wide local excision that removes the cancer and a margin of healthy tissue.
- Vaginectomy to remove all or part of the vagina.
- Total hysterectomy to remove the uterus and cervix.
- Lymph node dissection in which lymph nodes are removed and checked for cancer.
- Pelvic exenteration to remove the cervix, vagina, ovaries, lower colon, rectum, bladder and nearby lymph nodes.
Susan was never notified of her irregular pap smear results. Watch what happened when she discovered she had vaginal cancer.
Radiation Therapy for Vaginal Cancer
Even if the surgeon removes all the cancer visible at the time of surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. Learn more about radiation therapy.