Vaginal Cancer Treatment by Expert Gynecologic Oncology Doctors

Ovarian Cancer Institute at Mercy - Baltimore

Though vaginal cancer is a rare form of female reproductive tract cancer, it is important to choose the best doctors for vaginal cancer detection and treatment. The Gynecologic Oncology Center at Mercy includes doctors that have been recognized in Baltimore and across the region as some of the best doctors for diagnosing and treating female reproductive tract cancers, including ovarian, cervical, uterine or endometrial, vulvar, and vaginal cancers.

About the Condition

Vaginal cancer, which begins in the vagina, is rare. When detected early, it is often curable. The most common type of vaginal cancer is vaginal squamous cell carcinoma in which cancer forms in the thin, flat cells of the vagina's lining. Adenocarcinoma is vaginal cancer that develops in the vagina's glandular cells.

NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Vaginal Cancer Symptoms

Often there are no symptoms of vaginal cancer. Any pain or abnormalities should be examined by a doctor familiar with diagnosing and treating female reproductive tract cancer. Possible indications of vaginal cancer include:

  • Vaginal bleeding and discharge
  • Pelvic pain
  • Lump in the vagina
  • Pain or bleeding after intercourse
  • Pain while urinating

Tests for Vaginal Cancer

There is not a standard test for detecting vaginal cancer. It is important to receive annual pelvic examinations so any changes to the vagina and surrounding area can be addressed early. Although a Pap smear is used primarily to detect cervical cancer, it occasionally can detect cancerous cells in the vagina as well.

Should vaginal cancer be suspected, a biopsy or colposcopy may be performed to confirm the presence of cancer cells. In a biopsy, tissue is taken from the vagina and examined for cancer. A colposcopy uses a lighted magnifier to view the vagina for abnormalities.

Stages of Vaginal Cancer

Properly staging vaginal cancer is essential to determining the course of treatment. The stages of vaginal cancer include:

  • Stage I - vaginal cancer is only present in the vagina
  • Stage II - vaginal cancer spreads to the surrounding tissue
  • Stage III - vaginal cancer spreads to the pelvic or groin lymph nodes, to the pelvis, or to both Stage IVA - vaginal cancer spreads to the bladder or rectum lining or to areas beyond the pelvis
  • Stage IVB - vaginal cancer spreads outside the pelvic area to areas such as the lungs

NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

Surgery is performed to remove vaginal cancer. For early stages of vaginal cancer, the cancerous tumor and surrounding tissues are removed. For later of stages vaginal cancer, part or all of the vagina as well as other pelvic organs may be removed. Radiation can be used to help kill the cancer cells prior to surgery. Chemotherapy most often is used in conjunction with radiation to enable the radiation to work more effectively.

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