(Cancer of the Vagina)
- Squamous cell carcinoma—Occurs in the lining of the vagina.
Adenocarcinoma—Occurs in the area of the vagina lined with cells similar to those in the glands of the cervix and uterus.
- Clear cell adenocarcinoma—Occurs in women whose mother used a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy. This drug was introduced in the late 1930s and no longer used after 1971, so the incidence of this particular type of adenocarcinoma is expected to decline.
- Melanoma—Usually affects lower or outer portion of the vagina.
- Sarcoma—Forms deep in the walls of the vagina, not on the surface.
|Female Reproductive Organs|
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- History of cervical cancer
- History of precancerous conditions in the cervix or vagina
- Having a mother who took diethylstilbestrol (DES) while pregnant
- Human papillomavirus infection (HPV)—a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Vaginal adenosis—when cells lining the vagina look like those found in the cervix and uterus
- Bleeding or discharge not related to menstrual periods
- Pain or difficulty when urinating
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain in the pelvic area
- New or worsening constipation
- A mass in the vagina that can be felt
- Pap test —tissue from the inside of the cervix and upper vagina is scraped and tested
- Colposcopy —a lighted, magnifying instrument is used to examine the vagina and cervix
- Biopsy —removal of a sample of vaginal tissue for testing
- Have regular pelvic exams to monitor any changes that may signal cancer.
- Talk to your doctor if you were exposed to DES while your mother was pregnant with you. Your doctor can monitor your risk of vaginal cancer.
- HPV vaccine—Gardasil, that protects against four types of HPV. HPV is associated with certain types of cancer. The vaccine helps to prevent cancers of the cervix, vulva, and vagina.
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca
Andrassy, RJ, Wiener, ES, et al. Progress in the surgical management of vaginal rhabdomyosarcoma: A 25-year review from the Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study Group. J Pediatr Surg. 1999; 34:731-734.
DeMatos, P, Tyler, D, et al. Mucosal melanoma of the female genitalia: A clinicopathologic study of forty-three cases at Duke University Medical Center. Surgery. 1998; 124:38-48.
Frank SJ, Jhingran A, et al. Definitive radiation therapy for squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2005;62:138-147.
Pandey , Mathew A, et al. Primary malignant melanoma of the mucous membranes. Eur J Surg Oncol. 1998;24(4):303-307.
Squamous cell carcinoma of vagina. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 26, 2014. Accessed November 26, 2014.
Vaginal cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003146-pdf.pdf. Accessed November 26, 2014.
Vaginal cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/vaginal. Accessed November 26, 2014.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 12/2014 -
- Update Date: 12/20/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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