Vaginal cancer occurs when cells in the tissue of the vagina grow out of control and form malignant tumors. The vagina is the canal leading from the cervix (the opening of uterus) to the outside of the body. When babies are born, they pass out of the mother’s body through the vagina.
Vaginal Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis
Vaginal cancer symptoms may include:
- Non-menstrual vaginal bleeding, such as between periods, after intercourse or after menopause
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- A lump or mass in your vagina
- Painful or frequent urination
- Pelvic pain
Vaginal cancer screening and diagnostic tests include:
- Pelvic examination
- Colposcopy – A colposcope is an instrument that provides a lighted, magnified view of the tissues of the vagina and the cervix.
- Biopsy – Removal of a small amount of tissue for examination under a microscope by a pathologist to look for cancer cells
- Ultrasound – Uses sound waves to create a picture of the internal organs
- Endoscopy– Using a flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope, the doctor can see inside the body
- Imaging scans such as computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or positron emission tomography (PET) or PET-CT scan
Vaginal Cancer Treatment
Treatment options for vaginal cancer vary depending on the stage of disease – the size of the tumors, how deep it has grown into the vagina, and how far it has spread beyond the vagina. However, it generally will include a combination of:
- Surgery – to remove the cancerous growth
- Radiation therapy – to shrink the tumors
- Chemotherapy – to shrink the tumors
- Targeted therapy – medications that specifically target the cervical cancer tumors
Gynecologic Oncology ProgramOur program provides patients access to innovative therapeutics and advanced surgical procedures that are setting a new standard for the management of gynecologic cancer in Boston.