Vaginal Cancer: Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Treatment

Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal cancer is a topic that deserves attention and understanding. It refers to the abnormal growth of cancerous cells in the tissues of the vagina, which is a part of the female reproductive system. While it is relatively rare compared to other types of gynecological cancers, it is essential to be aware of its signs, symptoms, and risk factors. Vaginal cancer typically develops in the lining of the vagina and can manifest in various forms such as squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma. It may present symptoms like abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during intercourse, pelvic pain, or a lump or mass in the vagina. Understanding what vaginal cancer entails is crucial for early detection and prompt treatment. Regular gynecological check-ups and screenings can help identify any abnormalities or changes in the vaginal tissues. If diagnosed early, treatment options such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination thereof can be explored. It's important to consult with healthcare professionals who specialize in gynecologic oncology for accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plans. By raising awareness about vaginal cancer and its signs, we can empower women to take charge of their health and seek timely medical attention when needed.

Symptoms of Vaginal cancer

If you suspect you or someone else is experiencing Vaginal cancer, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention by calling emergency services or consult with a Cancer Specialist.


Several factors have been identified as potential causes of vaginal cancer. One of the primary factors is infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), particularly HPV types 16 and 18. These high-risk HPV strains are known to increase the risk of developing various types of cancers, including vaginal cancer. Other potential causes include a history of abnormal cells in the cervix or vagina, exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth, smoking, and a weakened immune system. It's important to note that while these factors may increase the risk, not all individuals with these risk factors will develop vaginal cancer. By understanding the causes associated with vaginal cancer, individuals can take steps to reduce their risk. Regular screenings, such as Pap tests and HPV testing, can help detect any abnormalities early on. Additionally, practicing safe sex and getting vaccinated against HPV can also play a role in prevention.

Risk Factors

Several risk factors have been identified that may increase the likelihood of developing vaginal cancer. One of the primary factors is age, with the majority of cases occurring in women over the age of 60. Additionally, exposure to certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) has been linked to an increased risk of developing this type of cancer. Other potential risk factors include a history of cervical or uterine cancer, smoking, a weakened immune system, and a family history of vaginal or other gynecological cancers. It is important to note that while these factors may increase the likelihood of developing vaginal cancer, they do not guarantee its occurrence. By understanding these risk factors and discussing them with healthcare professionals, individuals can make informed decisions about their health. Regular screenings and HPV vaccinations are essential preventative measures that can significantly reduce the risk of developing vaginal cancer.


One of the most common symptoms of vaginal cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding. This may include bleeding between periods, after sexual intercourse, or after menopause. It is crucial to pay attention to any changes in your menstrual cycle or unexpected bleeding, as it could be an indication of an underlying issue. Another symptom to watch out for is vaginal discharge that is unusual in color, consistency, or odor. While some discharge is normal, any significant changes should not be ignored and should be discussed with a healthcare professional. Pain during sexual intercourse can also be a symptom of vaginal cancer. If you experience discomfort or pain during intercourse that you haven't experienced before, it's important to consult with your doctor for further evaluation. Other potential symptoms may include pelvic pain, a lump or mass in the vagina, and frequent urination. These symptoms can vary from person to person and may not necessarily indicate vaginal cancer on their own. However, if you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms or have concerns about your reproductive health, it's essential to seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and treatment. Remember that early detection plays a crucial role in successfully treating vaginal cancer. By being proactive about your health and paying attention to any unusual symptoms, you can take control of your well-being and ensure timely intervention if needed.

Need an Appointment?


Diagnosing vaginal cancer is a crucial step in effectively managing and treating this condition. Early detection plays a vital role in improving the prognosis and overall survival rates for patients. One of the primary techniques used for diagnosis of vaginal cancer is a pelvic examination, which involves a thorough physical examination of the pelvic region to check for any abnormalities or suspicious signs. In addition to a pelvic examination, doctors may also recommend further tests such as colposcopy, biopsy, imaging scans (such as MRI or CT scan), or blood tests. These diagnostic tools help provide more detailed information about the extent and stage of the cancer. It is essential for individuals who experience symptoms like abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during intercourse, unusual discharge, or persistent pelvic pain to seek medical attention promptly. By doing so, they can receive an accurate diagnosis and initiate appropriate treatment plans tailored to their specific needs.


The specific treatment approach will depend on various factors such as the stage and type of cancer, as well as the overall health and preferences of the individual. Surgery is often a primary treatment option for vaginal cancer. This may involve removing a portion or all of the vagina, nearby lymph nodes, and sometimes other affected organs. In some cases, reconstructive surgery may be performed to restore function and appearance. Radiation therapy is another common treatment modality for vaginal cancer. It uses high-energy beams to target and destroy cancer cells in the affected area. This can be done externally (external beam radiation) or internally (brachytherapy), where radioactive sources are placed near or inside the tumor. Chemotherapy may also be used in combination with surgery or radiation therapy to treat vaginal cancer. It involves using drugs that kill cancer cells throughout the body, which can be particularly beneficial in cases where the disease has spread beyond the vagina. Additionally, targeted therapies and immunotherapies are emerging as promising approaches for treating certain types of vaginal cancers. These treatments work by targeting specific molecules or boosting the body's immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells.

Preventive Measures

Regular screenings and check-ups play a crucial role in prevention. It is recommended that women undergo routine pelvic exams, Pap tests, and HPV tests as advised by their healthcare provider. These screenings can help detect any abnormalities or early signs of vaginal cancer, allowing for timely intervention and treatment. Additionally, practicing safe sexual habits can greatly reduce the risk of contracting HPV (human papillomavirus), which is a major cause of vaginal cancer. This includes consistent condom use and limiting sexual partners. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle also contributes to prevention. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco products, and limiting alcohol consumption are all important steps towards reducing the risk of developing vaginal cancer. Educating oneself about the symptoms associated with vaginal cancer is crucial as well. Being aware of warning signs such as abnormal bleeding or discharge, pelvic pain or discomfort, changes in urinary habits or bowel movements can prompt early medical attention if they occur. By prioritizing prevention through regular screenings, safe sexual practices, healthy lifestyle choices, and awareness of potential symptoms, we can take proactive steps towards reducing the incidence of vaginal cancer. Remember: knowledge is power when it comes to safeguarding our health.

Do's & Don’t's

When it comes to vaginal cancer, it is important to be informed about the do's and don'ts to ensure proper care and prevention. By following these guidelines, individuals can take proactive steps towards maintaining their vaginal health and reducing the risk of developing this type of cancer. 

Do's Don't
Consult with a healthcare professional for regular screenings and check-ups. Ignore any unusual symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, pain, or discharge.
Follow the recommended treatment plan provided by your healthcare team. Avoid delaying or skipping medical appointments or treatments.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Smoke or use tobacco products, as they can increase cancer risks.
Seek emotional support through counseling, support groups, or talking to loved ones. Neglect mental health; seek support if feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
Discuss any concerns or questions about sexuality, intimacy, or fertility with your healthcare team. Engage in unprotected sexual activity that may increase the risk of infections.
Practice safe sex and use protection to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Rely solely on self-diagnosis or alternative treatments without medical advice.
Take prescribed medications as directed and follow post-treatment care guidelines. Overexert yourself physically or ignore physical limitations during recovery.

If you suspect you or someone else is experiencing Vaginal cancer, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention by calling emergency services or consult with a Cancer Specialist.

Frequently Asked Questions
Vaginal cancer refers to the abnormal growth of cells in the tissues of the vagina, which is the muscular canal connecting the uterus to the outside of the body.
Several factors can increase a woman's risk of developing vaginal cancer, including advanced age, history of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, smoking, a weakened immune system, and exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) in utero.
Common symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, pain during sexual intercourse or urination, pelvic pain or pressure, and a lump or mass in the vagina.
Diagnosis typically involves a combination of physical examinations, imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI scans, biopsies to examine tissue samples under a microscope for signs of cancerous cells, and sometimes additional tests like CT scans or PET scans to determine if the cancer has spread.
Treatment options depend on various factors such as stage and extent of tumor growth. They may include surgery to remove tumors and affected tissue, radiation therapy using high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells, chemotherapy drugs administered orally or intravenously to destroy cancer cells throughout the body.
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent all cases of vaginal cancer, certain measures can reduce your risk. These include practicing safe sex by using condoms consistently and getting vaccinated against HPV if recommended by your healthcare provider.
Share With:

Related Diseases