Vagina cancer: Introduction
Vagina cancer, also called vaginal cancer, is a malignant disease that occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the vagina. Vagina cancer is usually caused by another cancer that has begun in a different part of the body and spreads to the vagina, such as cervical cancer or endometrial cancer. This is called secondary vagina cancer.
Very rarely, vagina cancer starts in the vagina itself. This is called primary vagina cancer. Most cases of primary vagina cancer are a type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. The exact cause of squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina is unknown, but many women with the disease have also had cervical cancer and are over the age of 50 years.
Normally, cells in the vagina that are old or damaged will stop dividing and die before they can become cancerous. These cells replaced by healthy young cells. Vagina cancer occurs when a genetic mutation causes old or damaged cells to continue to divide and multiply uncontrollably. This results in the development of a malignant tumor in the vagina. Left untreated, vagina cancer cells can continue to multiply, spread to other parts of the body, and interfere with more of the body's vital processes. Vagina cancer can be fatal, especially if untreated.
Certain behaviors increase the risk of developing cervical cancer, which can spread (metastasize) and cause secondary vaginal cancer. These behaviors include having sex at a young age, unprotected sex, multiple sex partners, or having sex with a partner who has had multiple sex partners or been exposed to the HPV virus. Other risk factors include smoking, having HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases, or taking medications that suppress the immune system.
Other females at risk for vagina cancer include those whose mothers took a drug called DES during pregnancy. Very rarely, a certain type of vagina cancer can occur in infancy or during the toddler years.
Symptoms of vagina cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding, bloody vaginal discharge, pain during sexual intercourse, pelvic pain and vaginal pain. In some cases, there may be no symptoms. For additional symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of vagina cancer.
Diagnosing vagina cancer begins with taking a medical and sexual history and completing a physical and pelvic examination. During the pelvic examination, the health care practitioner will assess the reproductive organs and take a swab sample of the woman's cervix and have it tested for the presence of sexually transmitted diseases. A pap smear is also performed during a pelvic examination. A pap smear can screen for cervical dysplagia and cervical cancer, which can spread to the vagina and cause vagina cancer.
Other tests include a colposcopy to closely examine the cervix and a cervical and vaginal biopsy, which involves taking a sample of the cervix and vaginal tumor to be examined for the presence of cancer cells.
Because there may be no symptoms of vagina cancer, seeking medical care and getting a diagnosis can be delayed. In addition, symptoms of vagina cancer can resemble symptoms of other diseases and conditions. For information on diseases and conditions that can mimic vagina cancer, refer to misdiagnosis of vagina cancer.
Treatment of vagina cancer varies, depending on the individual case and the type and stage of the cancer. Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, and possibly chemotherapy. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of vagina cancer. ...more »
Vagina cancer: Cancer of the vagina.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Vagina cancer is available below.
Vagina cancer: Symptoms
Some women with vagina cancer may have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can include may include abnormal vaginal bleeding, painless vaginal bleeding, bloody vaginal discharge, pain during sexual intercourse, pelvic pain, and vaginal pain.
Symptoms of vagina cancer can be similar to other conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine cancer or ...more symptoms »
Vagina cancer: Treatments
There is no way to prevent primary vagina cancer. However, secondary vagina cancer that occurs due to the spreading of cervical cancer may be prevented in some cases. Although guidelines vary, it is often recommended that teenage girls and women begin having regular Pap smear screening tests to screen for cervical cancer. Prevention also includes ...more treatments »
Vagina cancer: Misdiagnosis
Because some women have no symptoms of vagina cancer in its early stages, it is easy to miss a diagnosis of the condition when it is most curable. Untreated or late stage, metastatic vagina cancer can be fatal.
Symptoms of vagina cancer can be similar to symptoms of other conditions, such as uterine cancer, cervical cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Vagina cancer
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symptoms of Vagina cancer
Treatments for Vagina cancer
See full list of 7
treatments for Vagina cancer
Home Diagnostic Testing
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Wrongly Diagnosed with Vagina cancer?
Vagina cancer: Related Patient Stories
Vagina cancer: Deaths
Read more about Deaths and Vagina cancer.
Alternative Treatments for Vagina cancer
Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Vagina cancer may include:
Types of Vagina cancer
- Embryonal rhabdomyosarcomas - rare type in female newborns and young girls
- DES-related vaginal cancer - occurring in females whose mothers had taken DES during pregnancy.
- more types...»
Read more about Types of Vagina cancer
Diagnostic Tests for Vagina cancer
Read more about tests for Vagina cancer
Vagina cancer: Complications
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Causes of Vagina cancer
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Disease Topics Related To Vagina cancer
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Vagina cancer: Undiagnosed Conditions
Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:
Misdiagnosis and Vagina cancer
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Read more about Misdiagnosis and Vagina cancer
Vagina cancer: Research Doctors & Specialists
Research related physicians and medical specialists:
- Pregnancy & Fertility Health Specialists:
- Womens Health Specialists:
- Cancer Specialists:
- Urinary & Bladder Specialists (Urology):
- Kidney Health Specialists (Nephrology):
- more specialists...»
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Hospitals & Clinics: Vagina cancer
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Vagina cancer: Rare Types
Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:
Evidence Based Medicine Research for Vagina cancer
Medical research articles related to Vagina cancer include:
Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database
Prognosis for Vagina cancer
More about prognosis of Vagina cancer
Research about Vagina cancer
Visit our research pages for current research about Vagina cancer treatments.
Clinical Trials for Vagina cancer
The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally
and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Vagina cancer include:
See full list of 14
Clinical Trials for Vagina cancer
Statistics for Vagina cancer
Vagina cancer: Broader Related Topics
Types of Vagina cancer
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Definitions of Vagina cancer:
A malignant tumor involving the vagina. Representative examples include carcinomas and sarcomas. -- 2003
- (Source - Diseases Database)
Vagina cancer is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of
Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH). This means that Vagina cancer, or a subtype of Vagina cancer,
affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.
Source - National Institutes of Health (NIH)
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