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(Cancer of the Vagina)
- Squamous cell carcinoma—occurs in the lining of the vagina
Adenocarcinoma—occurs in the area of the vagina lined with cells similar to those in the glands of the cervix and uterus
- A special type of this cancer, called clear cell adenocarcinoma, occurs in women who were exposed to a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES) while in their mother’s womb. This drug was introduced in the late 1930s and no longer used after 1971, so the incidence of this particular type of adenocarcinoma is expected to decline.
- Melanoma—usually affects lower or outer portion of the vagina
- Sarcoma—forms deep in the walls of the vagina, not on the surface
|Female Reproductive Organs|
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- Age: 60 and older
- History of cervical cancer
- History of precancerous conditions in the cervix or vagina
- Having a mother who took diethylstilbestrol (DES) while pregnant
- Human papillomavirus infection (HPV)—a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Vaginal adenosis—when cells lining the vagina look like those found in the cervix and uterus
- Bleeding or discharge not related to menstrual periods
- Pain or difficulty when urinating
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain in the pelvic area
- New or worsening constipation
- A mass in the vagina that can be felt
- Pap test—tissue from the inside of the cervix and upper vagina is scraped and tested
- Colposcopy—a lighted, magnifying instrument is used to examine the vagina and cervix in great detail
- Biopsy—removal of a sample of vaginal tissue for testing
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org
Gynecologic Cancer Foundation http://www.thegcf.org
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
Canadian Women's Health Network http://www.cwhn.ca
Andrassy, RJ, Wiener, ES, et al. Progress in the surgical management of vaginal rhabdomyosarcoma: a 25-year review from the Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study Group. J Pediatr Surg. 1999; 34:731.
DeMatos, P, Tyler, D, et al. Mucosal melanoma of the female genitalia: a clinicopathologic study of forty-three cases at Duke University Medical Center. Surgery. 1998; 124:38.
Frank SJ, Jhingran A, et al. Definitive radiation therapy for squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2005;62:138-147.
Human papillomavirus vaccine. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary. Updated December 4, 2009. Accessed December 15, 2009.
Pandey M; Mathew A; Abraham EK; Ahamed IM; Nair KM. Primary malignant melanoma of the mucous membranes. Eur J Surg Oncol. 1998 Aug;24(4):303-307.
Vaginal cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/CRI%5F2%5F3x.asp?dt=55. Accessed July 12, 2005.
Vaginal cancer. Gynecological Oncology Health Guide website. Available at: http://www/umm.edu/gyn/vaginal.htm. Accessed July 12, 2005.
Vaginal cancer (PDQ) treatment. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/vagina/patient. Accessed July 12, 2005.
What is vaginal cancer? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/vaginalcancer/detailedguide/vaginal-cancer-what-is-vaginal-cancer. Updated August 2010. Accessed October 13, 2010.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD
- Review Date: 12/2013
- Update Date: 01/13/2014