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Gynecologic cancer | Vaginal cancer

 

 What is cancer of the vagina? What are its causes and risk factors?

 How is vaginal cancer diagnosed?

 How is vaginal cancer staged?

 How is vaginal cancer treated?

 

 What is cancer of the vagina? What are its causes and risk factors?

Cancer of the vagina is a rare form of gynecological cancer found in the tissues of the vagina. There are two primary types of vaginal cancer with different pathogeneses and natural histories. Because they have different routes of spread, they are treated differently. Eighty-five per cent are squamous cell type, usually found in older women. Adenocarcinomas are less common, and are typically found in younger women. Women whose mothers took DES (diethylstilbestrol) while pregnant are at risk for the rare, clear cell adenocarcinomas. Vaginal melanomas, sarcomas, and adenosquamous varieties are rare, but also reported..

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 How is vaginal cancer diagnosed?

Symptoms of cancer of the vagina include discharge or abnormal bleeding, difficult or painful urination, and pelvic pain or pain during intercourse. The diagnosis is made following a pelvic examination and a PAP smear of the cervix and vaginal walls. If abnormal cells are found in the PAP, a small sample of vaginal tissue is taken for biopsy.

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 How is vaginal cancer staged?

Stages are defined by FIGO or the AJCC TNM classifications. T categories respond to FIGO stages:

Stage 0: Carcinoma in situ or very early cancer, found in only a few layers of cells

Stage I: Tumor confined to the vagina

Stage II: Tumor has spread to the tissues just outside the vagina but not to pelvic sidewall

Stage III: Tumor has spread to pelvic sidewall and may have spread to other organs and lymph nodes in the pelvis

Stage IV: Tumor invades bladder or rectum and/or extends beyond true pelvis

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 How is vaginal cancer treated?

Therapy alternatives depend on stage and histology. Either surgery or radiation is effective for early-stage disease; radiation is the primary treatment for more advanced cancer.

Surgery is the most common treatment for all stages of cancer of the vagina. Laser surgery and local wide excisions may be performed for early stage cancers. Vaginectomy, radical hysterectomy, or exenteration may used to treat more advanced cancers. External and/or internal radiation may be used alone or after surgery.

Chemotherapy may be given by pill, through a vein, or intravaginally

Source:

NCI/PDQ for Vaginal Cancer updated 2/2000

 

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