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.

Symptoms of Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal cancer often shows no early signs or symptoms. Check with your OBGYN if you incur any of the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding unrelated to menstruation
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain in the pelvic region
  • Pain while urinating
  • Constipation
  • A lump or mass in the vagina

Risk Factors for Vaginal Cancer

Risk factors for vaginal cancer may include:

  • Being over the age of 60
  • Being exposed to the drug DES while in the mother's womb. Women who were exposed to DES have an increased risk of developing vaginal cancer
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • A history of abnormal cells in the cervix
  • Having cervical cancer
  • A history of abnormal cells in the uterus
  • Having uterine cancer
  • Having a hysterectomy

Vaginal Cancer Treatment Options

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.

Why Choose Memorial Hermann for Treatment?

Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers are accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ (ACoS) Commission on Cancer (CoC). This rare distinction is given to cancer programs that uphold the highest standard of care for patients. When you choose Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers for your cancer treatment, you can rest assured you will receive the best possible care delivered by a compassionate team of caregivers in a calm, healing environment.

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