Vaginal cancer is abnormal cell growth in the vagina that spirals out of control. Very few cancers of the vagina are primary cancers, meaning that cancers that appear in the vagina actually started somewhere else. For example, a cancer might appear in the vagina that actually started in the cervix—the mouth of the vagina.
Like cervical cancer, having an infection caused by one of the many human papillomaviruses (HPV) can cause vaginal cancer. Additionally, research has indicated that women who are 60 and older are more likely to get the disease. Other risk factors for vaginal cancer include:
To find out if you have vagina cancer, your doctor should review your past medical history and perform a physical exam, but may also use some of the following tests and procedures:
If you do have vaginal cancer, your doctor will run more tests to see if the cancer cells have spread elsewhere in your body, such as:
Vaginal cancer can be treated several ways. The three most common treatments are:
However, new treatments are on the horizon—thanks to clinical trials. Examples of these include immunotherapy and radiosensitizers.