The ABCs of Vaginal Cancer: Everything You Need to Know

It’s a common fact that cancer is a very deadly disease. And when it comes to vaginal cancer, its cases are rising with every passing year and it is becoming one of the most incurable forms of cancer among women. If you want to know everything about vaginal cancer then continue reading this article. Here is an in-depth guide for you that covers all the important information related to vaginal cancer that you must know. So, let’s get started!

What Is Vaginal Cancer?

Vaginal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the muscular tube that links the uterus to the rest of the genitalia in a woman. It usually begins in the cells that line the surface of the vagina, also known as the birth canal. Primary vaginal cancer (cancer that develops and spreads from the vagina) is an extremely uncommon form of the disease. However, the vagina can become infected with several different types of cancer that originate in other parts of the body and then spread there. The best time for recovery from vaginal cancer can be done by an early diagnosis. But it is important to note that vaginal cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is much more challenging to treat.

Vaginal Cancer Symptoms

Many precancerous conditions, including vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia, as well as the early stages of vaginal cancer, do not produce any symptoms in their early stages. In the advanced stages of the disease, patients may experience symptoms. Regular gynecologic examinations or Pap tests can detect a significant number of cases of vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN) as well as early vaginal cancer.

Main Symptoms/Warning Signs Of Vaginal Cancer

Abnormal bleeding in the vagina is the sign of vaginal cancer that is most commonly seen. Bleeding that occurs in the vaginal area during or after menopause could be an indication of a problem and ought to be discussed with your physician. Additional signs and symptoms of vaginal cancer include the following:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Having trouble or experiencing pain while urinating
  • Discomfort can be experienced during sexual activity
  • A painful sensation in the pelvic region
  • Discomfort in the back or the legs
  • Legs get swollen and feel painful
  • Abnormal function of the bowels

Please consult your physician if you are concerned about any changes that you have been experiencing in your body. In addition to asking you other questions, your doctor will ask how long you have been experiencing the symptom(s) and how frequently you have had them. This is to assist in determining the cause of the issue, which is referred to as a diagnosis.

In the event that cancer is diagnosed, symptom management will continue to be an essential component of cancer care and treatment. The management of symptoms is also sometimes referred to as “palliative care” or “supportive care.” It is frequently begun shortly after the diagnosis and maintained all the way through treatment. Be sure to discuss the symptoms you are experiencing with your health care team, including any new symptoms or changes in the symptoms you have been experiencing.

How Do U Know If U Have Bladder Cancer?

It is very important that you always keep a check on the signs, symptoms, and any changes in your body that indicates towards you have cancer. Experiencing symptoms does not mean that they are an indication of cancer always. You can even get yourself diagnosed with several unknown diseases as well! If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms other than the above-mentioned points, it is important to consult with a doctor:

1. A sudden increase in the number of urination accidents.

2. A feeling that you need to go but cannot wait for the minutes to pass.

3. Urine that is dark or bloody in color.

4. Pain when trying to pee or pain during sex. 

5. A change in your bowel habits, such as more constipation or diarrhea. 

6. Unexplained weight loss or an increase in your appetite despite being active and eating regular meals. 

7. Persistent fatigue even after getting adequate restful sleep at night.

If you are facing a couple of symptoms then you must consult your doctor at the earliest. 

Causes Of Vaginal Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, the root cause of the majority of cases of vaginal cancer is unknown. On the other hand, there is evidence that links the following to vaginal cancer:

  1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

According to the National Health Service, this particular sexually transmitted infection is the leading contributor to the development of vaginal cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, HPV does not pose a health risk to the majority of people. However, chronic infection with high-risk strains of the virus can, in the long run, lead to the development of cancer.

  1. Cervical Cancer That Occurred In The Past

If you are cervical cancer then there is a chance that vaginal cancer may affect you. It is also important to note that HPV is frequently the cause of cervical cancer.

  1. Diethylstilbestrol Exposure During Fetal Development (DES)

People who were pregnant were given this medication in the past in order to reduce the risk of miscarriage. However, by the 1970s, medical professionals had stopped recommending it to their patients. DES-related vaginal cancer is now an extremely uncommon occurrence.

Who Is Likely To Get Vaginal Cancer

In addition to this, vaginal cancer is linked to a number of other risk factors, including the following:

  • Having had a previous hysterectomy, whether it was for a benign or malignant mass
  • According to the American Cancer Society, smoking regularly increases the risk of more than double getting vaginal cancer.
  • Vaginal cancer is rare in people younger than 40. And almost half of the cases occur in women who are 70 years old or older.
  • A weak immune system is also one of the major contributing factors according to Cancer Research UK
  • Vaginal cancer can occur as a result of conditions like HIV or lupus early exposure to HPV through sexual activity.

Even if you have more than one of these risk factors, it does not necessarily mean that you will develop vaginal cancer. But at the same time, if you don’t have any of these risk factors, it doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility that you could get vaginal cancer. Consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms and come under any of the following categories.

How To Lower Your Risk Of Getting Vaginal Cancer

You can treat precancerous conditions and lower your risk of developing vaginal cancer in a number of different ways, including the following:

  1. Get an annual pelvic exam

This is the most effective method for evaluating your reproductive health as a whole. You might get a Pap test and an HPV test during this appointment. The Pap test screens for abnormal or precancerous cells on the cervix, while the HPV test looks for high-risk strains of the cancer-causing virus HPV. If you have had your uterus removed, you won’t need to get Pap tests anymore.

  1. Get vaccinated against HPV

Because of this, infection with high-risk strains of HPV will be less likely to occur. Cancers of the head and neck, as well as multiple gynecologic cancers, can be caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). There are some adults who are eligible to receive the HPV vaccine. Inquire with your primary care physician if it is appropriate for you.

  1. Practice safe sex

Because HPV is a virus that is spread through sexual contact, taking precautions during sexual activity can help reduce the risk of infection. Even though using a condom won’t completely prevent you from getting HPV because the virus can affect areas that aren’t covered by a condom, they are still helpful in the fight against the disease.

  1. Quit smoking

Because of this, your risk of developing multiple types of cancer is reduced.

Vaginal Cancer Types

There are three categories of vaginal cancer: low-risk, intermediate-risk, and high-risk. Low-risk tumors are those that are less than 2 cm in diameter, do not have any signs or symptoms, and can be detected through a Pap test. Intermediate-risk tumors are those that have signs or symptoms but can still be treated successfully if caught early. High-risk tumors are those that either has extensive signs or symptoms or have a size greater than 2 cm. 

Most vaginal cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is commonly spread through sexual contact. HPV is thought to cause about 30% of all cervical cancers and 70% of all vaginal cancers. Other causes of vaginal cancer include using tobacco products, being exposed to environmental chemicals, and having certain types of infections (such as HPV). There are five primary cancers that have their origins in the vagina:

  1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Cancer of the vaginal squamous cells begins in the cells that line the surface of the vagina and is known as vaginal squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cells are characterized by their flat appearance and can be located in the uppermost layers of the skin. It is most common for squamous cell carcinoma to develop in the part of the vagina that is closest to the cervix. Squamous cell carcinoma can develop in the cells that line the vagina. Squamous cell carcinoma makes up about 85% of vaginal cancers. Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia, also known as VaIN, is a precancerous condition that slowly leads to the development of the condition described above. This form of cancer progresses very slowly, typically manifesting itself in the upper region of the vagina close to the cervix, and typically not causing any symptoms for several years after it has established itself. Women over the age of 50 and women who have had cervical cancer in the past are most likely to be diagnosed with it. It is also more likely to recur in these patients.

  1. Adenocarcinoma

The vaginal gland tissue is where adenocarcinoma first develops. It accounts for somewhere between 5 and 10% of all cases of vaginal cancer. This is the type of vaginal cancer that occurs the second most frequently. The majority of female patients diagnosed with this form of cancer are in their early 20s. 19 is the median age at which a diagnosis is made. It is most common in women whose mothers took a drug called DES (diethylstilbestrol) to prevent miscarriage in the first trimester of their pregnancies with their daughters. This was done in an effort to reduce the risk of their daughters having a miscarriage. On the other hand, adenocarcinoma can also develop in women as they get older.

  1. Clear Cell Adenocarcinoma

People who develop this form of cancer have mothers who took the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) while they were pregnant between the years of the late 1940s and 1971. It is estimated that one person in every one thousand who was exposed to DES will end up developing vaginal cancer.

  1. Melanoma

Melanoma can start in the vagina, although this is an extremely uncommon occurrence. This particular form of cancer originates in the cells of the skin that are responsible for the production of pigment and the coloring of the skin. Melanomas are typically found on the skin of areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun. However, on rare occasions, they can develop in areas of the body that are never exposed to the sun. Melanoma is characterized by the presence of a dark-colored lesion that has uneven borders. Get more information about melanoma. Melanomas that form in the vagina typically manifest themselves in the lower or outer portion of the vagina when they are fully developed. 

  1. Sarcomas

There are a few distinct forms of these extremely rare tumors that can originate in the walls of the vagina. They develop and outgrow in the connective tissue cells or muscle cells. A very uncommon form of vaginal cancer that accounts for approximately 4% of cases. This particular form of cancer begins within the walls of the vagina rather than on the surface of the vagina. There are numerous subclassifications of sarcoma. The most common type is called Rhabdomyosarcoma, and it most frequently affects children. This particular form of vaginal cancer is considered to be a disease of childhood. It is more common in infants and very young children than it is in adult women, who only have a very small risk of developing the condition. Sarcomas do not develop on the surface of the vagina; rather, they develop deep within the vaginal wall, in the muscle, bone, or connective tissue.

  1. There are certain cancers that can affect both the vagina and the cervix, as well as both the vagina and the vulva. If this is the case, the cancer is named after the cervix or the vulva, as these are the locations that are thought to be the most likely sites where cancer first began to form.

Vaginal Cancer Staging

After a woman has been diagnosed with vaginal cancer, the next step for doctors is to determine whether cancer has spread, and if so, how far it has spread. The term for this procedure is staging. The extent to which cancer has spread throughout the body is indicated by the stage of the disease. It assists in determining the severity of cancer and the most effective method of treatment for it. When discussing survival rates, medical professionals frequently reference the stage of the patient’s cancer.

Cancer of the vaginal cervix can be diagnosed at stages ranging from I (1) to IV (4). As a general rule, a lower number indicates that cancer has not spread very far. If you have a higher stage number, such as stage IV, it indicates that cancer has spread further. Although everyone’s experience with cancer is different, cancers that are diagnosed at the same stage typically have a similar prognosis and are typically treated in a manner that is quite similar.

How To Determine The Stage Of Cancer

The FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) system along with the AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM staging system) system, which are both utilized for staging vaginal cancer, are, for the most part, equivalent to one another. When staging (or classifying) this cancer, they both make use of the following three key pieces of information:

The size of the tumor, also known as its extent, or T: How extensive is cancer, and has it spread to the lining of the vaginal cavity? Has cancer spread to neighboring tissues and organs, such as the wall of the pelvis? (The pelvis is the internal cavity that houses the internal female reproductive organs, as well as parts of the large intestine, the rectum, and the bladder.)

The disease had already spread to lymph nodes (N) in the area: Is there evidence that cancer has spread to the lymph nodes located in the pelvis or the groin (inguinal) region?

The dissemination (metastasis) to far-flung locations (M): Is there evidence that cancer has spread to lymph nodes or organs further away?

Following T, N, and M with numbers or letters provides additional information about each of these considerations. When the numbers are higher, it indicates that cancer has progressed further. When the T, N, and M categories of a person have been identified, the next step is a process called stage grouping, in which all of this information is combined and assigned an overall stage.

Stage 1

When referring to vaginal cancer, the term “stage 1” refers to the condition in which cancer has begun to grow into the wall of the vagina but has not yet spread further. Stage 1 is divided into 2 parts:

Stage 1A: If the cancer is only found in the vagina, it must be smaller than 2 centimeters and it must not have spread to the lymph nodes to be considered stage 1A. 

Stage 1B: Cancer of the vagina at the stage 1B level is defined as being larger than 2 centimeters but having not spread to lymph nodes located in close proximity to the vagina.

Stage 2

Stage 2 is split into two distinct groups that are as follows:

Stage 2A: When cancer has spread beyond the vagina into the surrounding tissues but has not yet reached the walls of the pelvis, it is referred to as stage 2A. You can open a glossary item or the lymph nodes that are nearby. The cancer is no more than 2 centimeters in size.

Stage 2B: Cancer has spread beyond the vagina into the surrounding tissues, but it has not yet reached the walls of the pelvis or the lymph nodes in the area. This is the second most advanced stage of vulvar cancer. The cancer is more than 2 centimeters in size.

Stage 3

This indicates that cancer has spread beyond the vagina and is now present on the side walls of the pelvis. When you go to urinate, you could experience complications as a result of this, such as pain or the presence of blood in your urine. There is also a possibility that cancer cells are present in lymph nodes that are located close to the vagina.

Stage 4

At this point, vaginal cancer has progressed significantly. This indicates that cancer has spread to other organs in the body in addition to the vagina. The fourth stage is broken up into two parts:

Stage 4A: If cancer has spread to your bladder or back passage, you are at stage 4A of the disease (rectum).

Stage 4B: When cancer has reached stage 4B, it has spread to organs that are further away from the primary tumor, such as the lungs or the bones.

Grading Of Vaginal Cancer

Grading is a method of classifying cancer cells into different categories according to the degree to which the cells resemble those of normal cells. This provides your doctor with an idea of how quickly or slowly cancer may progress and whether it is likely to spread to other areas of the body.

Grade 1

The cells have a very normal appearance to them. In some contexts, they may also be referred to as low grade or well-differentiated. Higher-grade cancer cells tend to grow more slowly and have a lower metastatic potential than lower-grade cancer cells.

Grade 2

The cells have taken on an abnormal appearance and are more likely to divide and spread. This grade is also referred to as the moderate grade or the moderately differentiated grade.

Grade 3

The cells have an extremely abnormal appearance and do not resemble normal cells at all. They have a propensity to develop rapidly and have a greater propensity to spread. They are sometimes referred to as high grade or poorly differentiated.

How Fast Does Vaginal Cancer Spread?

Cancer cells are created when certain cells undergo mutations that make it possible for them to rapidly grow and divide while also allowing them to continue living when normal cells would normally die. These cells have the potential to migrate to neighboring tissues and, eventually, to other organs and regions of the body.

When it first begins to form, vaginal cancer progresses very slowly and usually over the course of several years. The formation of a precancer is actually the first step in the process that leads to the development of vaginal cancer. Cells that are abnormal but not yet cancerous are referred to as precancerous cells. These abnormal cell types are referred to as Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia (VAIN) when they are found in the vagina. (An older term for the same condition is dysplasia, which you may also have heard used interchangeably with the term precancerous cells.) It is essential to treat precancerous conditions in order to stop precancerous cells from progressing into cancer. Even though precancerous cells do not in and of themselves pose a threat to a woman’s health, it is imperative that precancerous conditions be treated.

As soon as actual cancer cells begin to form, medical professionals, shift their attention to establishing how far cancer has spread throughout the body and determine whether or not it has spread to many other areas. Within a person’s body, cancer can spread in one of three different ways. Because cancer cells are able to invade neighboring tissue, cancer that begins in one reproductive organ frequently spreads to another reproductive organ that is located in close proximity. Additionally, there is a possibility that cancer cells could spread to other areas of the body by traveling through the lymph system or the blood. Metastasis is the name given to this process. If something like this occurs, there is a possibility that cancer will develop in another part of the body. However, the sooner the cancer is diagnosed and treated, the lower the risk that it will spread to other parts of the body.

Vaginal Cancer Diagnosis

The diagnosis of vaginal cancer can be made using a variety of different tests. The individual being evaluated will not necessarily have to take all of the tests that are described here. When selecting a diagnostic test, your physician may take into consideration the following factors:

  • The type of cancer present in the body
  • Your presenting symptoms and signs
  • Your age as well as your overall health
  • The results from earlier diagnostic procedures

In addition to the results of a physical exam, the following tests might be performed in order to make a diagnosis of vaginal cancer:

Pelvic Examination

The vagina, the rest of the reproductive tract, the bladder, and the rectum are all scrutinized by the attending physician in order to detect any abnormalities.

Pap Test

During a Pap test, the doctor will take a sample of cells for testing by scraping the outside of the vaginal canal and the cervix in a very gentle manner. During the test, you will most likely feel some pressure as the physician takes a sample of your cells, but you should not experience any pain. People older than 30 years old typically have the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test performed in conjunction with their Pap smear.

Colposcopy

In certain circumstances, such as when Pap or HPV tests produce abnormal results, the doctor may perform a colposcopy to examine the vagina and the cervix in search of any abnormalities. A colposcope is a specialized optical device that magnifies the vaginal and cervix surfaces in a manner analogous to that of a microscope. The colposcope offers the physician a lighted and magnified view of the vaginal and cervix tissues, which they can examine more closely. The colposcope is not inserted into the body at any point during the procedure. The examination does not cause any discomfort, it can be carried out in the doctor’s office, and it does not result in any adverse effects. This examination can be carried out even while the patient is pregnant.

Biopsy

A small amount of tissue is removed during a biopsy so that it can be examined more closely under a microscope. Although other tests may raise suspicion that cancer is present, a definitive diagnosis can only be attained through the use of a biopsy. A pathologist conducts an analysis of the specimen (s). A physician who specializes in the interpretation of laboratory tests and the evaluation of cells, tissues, and organs in order to diagnose disease is called a pathologist. The location of the tissue that is being biopsied will determine the kind of biopsy that is performed on the tissue.

If the results of the biopsy point to the presence of vaginal cancer, the primary care physician will send the patient to a gynecologic oncologist for treatment. This type of oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of vaginal cancer. Imaging tests might be recommended by the specialist in order to determine whether or not cancer has spread beyond the vagina.

Ultrasound

An ultrasound produces a picture of the internal organs by using sound waves to create the image.

Endoscopy

An endoscope is a thin, lighted, flexible tube that is used during an endoscopy to allow the physician to view the interior of the patient’s body. While the tube is being inserted through the mouth, anus, vagina, or urethra of the patient, or through a small surgical opening, the patient may be sedated. The administration of medication in order to achieve a state that is more relaxed, calm, or sleepy is known as sedation.

CT Scan

Computed tomography scan, also known as a CAT or CT scan. A computed tomography (CT) scan uses multiple projections of x-ray images to produce internal images of the patient’s body. These images are then combined by a computer to produce a comprehensive, three-dimensional picture that reveals any abnormalities or tumors. The extent of the tumor can be evaluated with the help of a CT scan. Before the scan, it is not uncommon for a specialized dye known as a contrast medium to be administered in order to improve the image’s level of detail. This dye can be administered to a patient via intravenous (IV) injection, or it can be taken orally in the form of a pill or liquid.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Instead of using x-rays, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine generates detailed images of the human body using magnetic fields. In order to produce a more distinct image, a contrast medium, which is a specialized dye, is applied before the scan. This dye can be administered to a patient via intravenous (IV) injection, or it can be taken orally in the form of a pill or liquid.

Positron Emission Tomography 

Positron emission tomography is also known as a PET scan or a PET-CT. The combination of a PET scan and a CT scan is typically referred to as a PET-CT scan. On the other hand, your physician might just refer to this process as a PET scan in casual conversation. A PET scan is a diagnostic procedure that can be used to generate images of the organs and tissues located within the body. A very minute quantity of a radioactive sugar substance is administered intravenously to the patient. The cells that consume the most energy are the ones that take in this sugar substance. Because cancer has a propensity to make active use of energy, it is able to absorb a greater quantity of radioactive substances. The uptake of sugar can also be increased by other conditions, such as infection or other causes of inflammation, which can have this effect. However, there is not enough radiation present in the substance for it to be dangerous on its own. Following this, a scanner will detect this substance in order to produce images of the internal organs.

Following the completion of the diagnostic procedures, your primary care physician will talk over the results of the tests with you. If it is determined that cancer is present, these results will help the doctor describe the severity of the disease. This technique is known as staging.

Vaginal Cancer Treatment

Patients who have been diagnosed with vaginal cancer have access to a variety of treatment options. Some treatments are considered the gold standard (the treatment that is most commonly used), while others are currently being evaluated in clinical trials. A clinical trial of treatment is a type of research study that is conducted to assist in the improvement of existing treatments or to obtain information on new treatments for patients who have cancer. If clinical tests demonstrate that a new treatment is superior to the treatment that is currently being used, then the new treatment might replace the treatment that is currently being used. Patients should give some thought to the possibility of taking part in a clinical trial. Patients who have not yet begun treatment may be eligible to participate in certain clinical trials.

Here are the major treatments that are followed to treat vaginal cancer:

#1 Surgery

Both Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia (also known as VaIN) and vaginal cancer are surgical conditions that are typically treated through surgical excision. The following varieties of surgical procedures might be utilized in the treatment of VaIN:

  1. Laser Surgery

The term “laser surgery” refers to a type of surgical procedure that makes use of a laser beam, which is a narrow beam of intense light, as a “knife” to make cuts in tissue that are free of blood loss or to remove a surface lesion such as a tumor.

  1. Wide Local Excision

The term “wide local excision” refers to a type of surgical procedure that removes cancer as well as some of the healthy tissue surrounding it.

  1. Vaginectomy

Surgical removal of all or part of the vagina is referred to as a vaginectomy. It’s possible that reconstructing the vagina will require skin grafts taken from other areas of the body.

  1. Total hysterectomy

A total hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes both the uterus and the cervix. A vaginal hysterectomy is a name given to the procedure that refers to the removal of the uterus and the cervix through the vagina. When both the uterus and the cervix are removed during surgery, the procedure is referred to as a total abdominal hysterectomy. This type of hysterectomy is performed through a large incision (cut) in the abdomen. A total laparoscopic hysterectomy is a medical term for an operation in which the uterus and the cervix are removed through a relatively small incision in the abdomen with the assistance of a laparoscope.

  1. Lymph Node Dissection

A lymph node dissection is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of lymph nodes and the subsequent examination of a sample of tissue for any indications of cancer using a microscope. A lymphadenectomy is another name for this surgical procedure. It’s possible that the pelvic lymph nodes will need to be removed if the cancer is in the upper vagina. It’s possible that lymph nodes in the groin will need to be removed if the cancer is in the lower vagina.

  1. Pelvic Exenteration 

Exenteration of the pelvis is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the lower colon, rectum, bladder, cervix, vagina, and ovaries. It is also necessary to remove lymph nodes that are nearby. Stomas are artificial openings that are made in the body to allow urine and stool to exit the body and flow into a collection bag.

  1. Adjuvant Therapy

Some patients are recommended to undergo radiation therapy after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells. This is done even if the surgeon was successful in removing all visible signs of cancer during the initial surgery. Adjuvant therapy is a type of treatment that is administered after primary surgical treatment in order to reduce the likelihood that cancer will return.

#2 Radiotherapy

Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer that involves subjecting cancer cells to high-energy x-rays or other forms of radiation in order to kill them or prevent them from growing. Radiation therapy can be broken down into two categories:

  1. External Radiation Therapy

The radiation for external radiation therapy comes from a machine that is placed outside of the patient’s body and directed toward the area of the body where the cancer is located.

  1. Internal Radiation Therapy

In internal radiation therapy, a radioactive substance is encased in a needle, seed, wire, or catheter and delivered directly into or in close proximity to the area where the cancer is located.

The type and stage of the cancer being treated will determine the specifics of how the radiation therapy will be administered. Radiation therapy, both external and internal, is utilized in the treatment of vaginal cancer. Radiation therapy may also be utilized as palliative therapy in order to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.

#3 Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a treatment for cancer that involves the use of drugs in order to stop the growth of cancer cells. This can be accomplished in one of two ways: either by killing the cells or by preventing them from dividing. The chemotherapy drugs are absorbed into the bloodstream when the treatment is either taken orally or injected into a vein or muscle. This allows the drugs to affect cancer cells located anywhere in the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy drugs are administered in a manner that causes them to be absorbed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs have the greatest impact on cancer cells located in those specific locations (regional chemotherapy). The type and stage of cancer that is being treated will determine how the chemotherapy is administered to the patient.

Squamous cell vaginal cancer treatment can be administered topically in the form of a cream or lotion and is known as topical chemotherapy.

#4 Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a form of cancer treatment in which the patient’s own immune system is utilized to combat the disease. In order to boost, direct, or restore the body’s natural defenses against cancer, substances that are either produced by the body itself or manufactured in a laboratory are used. This approach to treating cancer is a form of therapy known as biological therapy.

The topical cream form of the immune response modifier imiquimod, which is currently under investigation for use in the treatment of vaginal lesions, is applied to the skin.

#5 Radiosensitizers

Radiosensitizers are drugs that make cancer cells more vulnerable to the effects of radiation treatment. It is possible that more tumor cells will be eliminated when radiation therapy is combined with radiosensitizers.

#6 Vaginal Reconstruction

During vaginal reconstruction, the vagina is removed and a new or artificial vagina is created in its place (vaginectomy). If your cancer has spread into the tissues that are nearby, you may require a more extensive surgical procedure. Your physician may decide to remove a portion or the entirety of the vagina, your womb, and the cervix, along with all of the tissues that support your womb. This type of hysterectomy is referred to as a radical hysterectomy.

What Can You Do For Vaginal Cancer?

There are many ways to reduce your risk of developing vaginal cancer. You can reduce your risk by getting regular Pap smears, being physically active, avoiding smoking, and using birth control methods that protect against STIs. If you notice any changes in your vaginal discharge, such as a change in color, odor, or shape, you should see your doctor. And if you are diagnosed with cancer then depending on your stage, your doctor will recommend you to undergo one of the above-mentioned treatments. 

Do You Have Chemo For Vaginal Cancer?

Yes, you can undergo chemotherapy for vaginal cancer. Chemotherapy is a type of treatment that can help treat many different types of cancer. Chemotherapy helps to shrink and destroy tumors in the vagina. There are a few things to keep in mind when undergoing vaginal cancer chemotherapy:

  • Make sure to take all the medications as prescribed by your doctor. If you don’t take them, your doctor may give you another medication to make up for it.
  • Try not to get too sick during your treatment. If you do become sick, make sure to let your doctor know so that he or she can adjust your treatment plan accordingly.
  • Make sure you are comfortable during your treatment. Some women find wearing a wig or loose-fitting clothing helpful during their treatments

What Is The Cure Rate For Vaginal Cancer?

.Your speedy recovery is contingent on a lot of different factors. The stage your cancer was in when your doctor discovered it is the most important factor. When caught in its earliest stages, vaginal cancer is frequently curable by medical professionals. Your age, your overall health, the stage of your cancer, whether the cancer is new or has returned, and whether it caused symptoms are all factors that can affect your speed of recovery.

Vaginal Cancer Survival Rate

Survival rates for women who are in stages I and II are approximately 67% after five years. This indicates that 67% of women are still alive five years after receiving a diagnosis or treatment for vaginal cancer. The survival rate comes out to approximately 47% when all stages are considered together.

Vaginal Cancer Prevention

Even though you might not be able to get your risk of vaginal cancer down to zero, there are still things you can do to help lower it, including the following:

  1. You should take preventative measures to lower your risk of HPV. This includes getting the HPV vaccine and using barrier methods such as condoms or other methods whenever you engage in sexual activity of any kind, be it vaginal, oral, or anal. Consult a medical professional or another healthcare provider if you are interested in learning more about the HPV vaccine.
  2. If you are a smoker, you should think about quitting. Cigarette smoking is a major contributor to the development of vaginal cancer as well as other cancers. The following are some suggestions that will assist you in getting started.
  3. Consume alcohol only in moderation. There is some evidence that consuming large amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of developing vaginal cancer.
  4. Get regular pelvic exams and Pap smears. Your doctor or another healthcare provider will be able to find precancers before they develop into vaginal cancers or find vaginal cancer early before it spreads or causes serious symptoms with this information.

Wrapping Up

Vaginal cancer is a serious problem that requires early detection and treatment. Anyone who experiences any unusual or persistent changes in their vaginal mucosa should see their doctor. In addition, women should be advised to regularly check their vaginal discharge for signs of infection and to avoid smoking and using sun exposure to prevent skin cancer. Finally, regular gynecological exams can help detect changes in the vagina early, when they are most treatable. If you think that you are facing any symptoms then you should rush to your doctor and make sure that you treat all the early signs and symptoms of vaginal cancer. In this article, we have discussed all the important points related to vaginal cancer. You refer to this article whenever you want to read or gain some information about vaginal cancer!

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It’s a common fact that cancer is a very deadly disease. And when it comes to vaginal cancer, its cases are rising with every passing year and it is becoming one of the most incurable forms of cancer among women. If you want to know everything about vaginal cancer then continue reading this article. Here is an in-depth guide for you that covers all the important information related to vaginal cancer that you must know. So, let’s get started!

What Is Vaginal Cancer?

Vaginal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the muscular tube that links the uterus to the rest of the genitalia in a woman. It usually begins in the cells that line the surface of the vagina, also known as the birth canal. Primary vaginal cancer (cancer that develops and spreads from the vagina) is an extremely uncommon form of the disease. However, the vagina can become infected with several different types of cancer that originate in other parts of the body and then spread there. The best time for recovery from vaginal cancer can be done by an early diagnosis. But it is important to note that vaginal cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is much more challenging to treat.

Vaginal Cancer Symptoms

Many precancerous conditions, including vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia, as well as the early stages of vaginal cancer, do not produce any symptoms in their early stages. In the advanced stages of the disease, patients may experience symptoms. Regular gynecologic examinations or Pap tests can detect a significant number of cases of vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN) as well as early vaginal cancer.

Main Symptoms/Warning Signs Of Vaginal Cancer

Abnormal bleeding in the vagina is the sign of vaginal cancer that is most commonly seen. Bleeding that occurs in the vaginal area during or after menopause could be an indication of a problem and ought to be discussed with your physician. Additional signs and symptoms of vaginal cancer include the following:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Having trouble or experiencing pain while urinating
  • Discomfort can be experienced during sexual activity
  • A painful sensation in the pelvic region
  • Discomfort in the back or the legs
  • Legs get swollen and feel painful
  • Abnormal function of the bowels

Please consult your physician if you are concerned about any changes that you have been experiencing in your body. In addition to asking you other questions, your doctor will ask how long you have been experiencing the symptom(s) and how frequently you have had them. This is to assist in determining the cause of the issue, which is referred to as a diagnosis.

In the event that cancer is diagnosed, symptom management will continue to be an essential component of cancer care and treatment. The management of symptoms is also sometimes referred to as “palliative care” or “supportive care.” It is frequently begun shortly after the diagnosis and maintained all the way through treatment. Be sure to discuss the symptoms you are experiencing with your health care team, including any new symptoms or changes in the symptoms you have been experiencing.

How Do U Know If U Have Bladder Cancer?

It is very important that you always keep a check on the signs, symptoms, and any changes in your body that indicates towards you have cancer. Experiencing symptoms does not mean that they are an indication of cancer always. You can even get yourself diagnosed with several unknown diseases as well! If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms other than the above-mentioned points, it is important to consult with a doctor:

1. A sudden increase in the number of urination accidents.

2. A feeling that you need to go but cannot wait for the minutes to pass.

3. Urine that is dark or bloody in color.

4. Pain when trying to pee or pain during sex. 

5. A change in your bowel habits, such as more constipation or diarrhea. 

6. Unexplained weight loss or an increase in your appetite despite being active and eating regular meals. 

7. Persistent fatigue even after getting adequate restful sleep at night.

If you are facing a couple of symptoms then you must consult your doctor at the earliest. 

Causes Of Vaginal Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, the root cause of the majority of cases of vaginal cancer is unknown. On the other hand, there is evidence that links the following to vaginal cancer:

  1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

According to the National Health Service, this particular sexually transmitted infection is the leading contributor to the development of vaginal cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, HPV does not pose a health risk to the majority of people. However, chronic infection with high-risk strains of the virus can, in the long run, lead to the development of cancer.

  1. Cervical Cancer That Occurred In The Past

If you are cervical cancer then there is a chance that vaginal cancer may affect you. It is also important to note that HPV is frequently the cause of cervical cancer.

  1. Diethylstilbestrol Exposure During Fetal Development (DES)

People who were pregnant were given this medication in the past in order to reduce the risk of miscarriage. However, by the 1970s, medical professionals had stopped recommending it to their patients. DES-related vaginal cancer is now an extremely uncommon occurrence.

Who Is Likely To Get Vaginal Cancer

In addition to this, vaginal cancer is linked to a number of other risk factors, including the following:

  • Having had a previous hysterectomy, whether it was for a benign or malignant mass
  • According to the American Cancer Society, smoking regularly increases the risk of more than double getting vaginal cancer.
  • Vaginal cancer is rare in people younger than 40. And almost half of the cases occur in women who are 70 years old or older.
  • A weak immune system is also one of the major contributing factors according to Cancer Research UK
  • Vaginal cancer can occur as a result of conditions like HIV or lupus early exposure to HPV through sexual activity.

Even if you have more than one of these risk factors, it does not necessarily mean that you will develop vaginal cancer. But at the same time, if you don’t have any of these risk factors, it doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility that you could get vaginal cancer. Consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms and come under any of the following categories.

How To Lower Your Risk Of Getting Vaginal Cancer

You can treat precancerous conditions and lower your risk of developing vaginal cancer in a number of different ways, including the following:

  1. Get an annual pelvic exam

This is the most effective method for evaluating your reproductive health as a whole. You might get a Pap test and an HPV test during this appointment. The Pap test screens for abnormal or precancerous cells on the cervix, while the HPV test looks for high-risk strains of the cancer-causing virus HPV. If you have had your uterus removed, you won’t need to get Pap tests anymore.

  1. Get vaccinated against HPV

Because of this, infection with high-risk strains of HPV will be less likely to occur. Cancers of the head and neck, as well as multiple gynecologic cancers, can be caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). There are some adults who are eligible to receive the HPV vaccine. Inquire with your primary care physician if it is appropriate for you.

  1. Practice safe sex

Because HPV is a virus that is spread through sexual contact, taking precautions during sexual activity can help reduce the risk of infection. Even though using a condom won’t completely prevent you from getting HPV because the virus can affect areas that aren’t covered by a condom, they are still helpful in the fight against the disease.

  1. Quit smoking

Because of this, your risk of developing multiple types of cancer is reduced.

Vaginal Cancer Types

There are three categories of vaginal cancer: low-risk, intermediate-risk, and high-risk. Low-risk tumors are those that are less than 2 cm in diameter, do not have any signs or symptoms, and can be detected through a Pap test. Intermediate-risk tumors are those that have signs or symptoms but can still be treated successfully if caught early. High-risk tumors are those that either has extensive signs or symptoms or have a size greater than 2 cm. 

Most vaginal cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is commonly spread through sexual contact. HPV is thought to cause about 30% of all cervical cancers and 70% of all vaginal cancers. Other causes of vaginal cancer include using tobacco products, being exposed to environmental chemicals, and having certain types of infections (such as HPV). There are five primary cancers that have their origins in the vagina:

  1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Cancer of the vaginal squamous cells begins in the cells that line the surface of the vagina and is known as vaginal squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cells are characterized by their flat appearance and can be located in the uppermost layers of the skin. It is most common for squamous cell carcinoma to develop in the part of the vagina that is closest to the cervix. Squamous cell carcinoma can develop in the cells that line the vagina. Squamous cell carcinoma makes up about 85% of vaginal cancers. Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia, also known as VaIN, is a precancerous condition that slowly leads to the development of the condition described above. This form of cancer progresses very slowly, typically manifesting itself in the upper region of the vagina close to the cervix, and typically not causing any symptoms for several years after it has established itself. Women over the age of 50 and women who have had cervical cancer in the past are most likely to be diagnosed with it. It is also more likely to recur in these patients.

  1. Adenocarcinoma

The vaginal gland tissue is where adenocarcinoma first develops. It accounts for somewhere between 5 and 10% of all cases of vaginal cancer. This is the type of vaginal cancer that occurs the second most frequently. The majority of female patients diagnosed with this form of cancer are in their early 20s. 19 is the median age at which a diagnosis is made. It is most common in women whose mothers took a drug called DES (diethylstilbestrol) to prevent miscarriage in the first trimester of their pregnancies with their daughters. This was done in an effort to reduce the risk of their daughters having a miscarriage. On the other hand, adenocarcinoma can also develop in women as they get older.

  1. Clear Cell Adenocarcinoma

People who develop this form of cancer have mothers who took the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) while they were pregnant between the years of the late 1940s and 1971. It is estimated that one person in every one thousand who was exposed to DES will end up developing vaginal cancer.

  1. Melanoma

Melanoma can start in the vagina, although this is an extremely uncommon occurrence. This particular form of cancer originates in the cells of the skin that are responsible for the production of pigment and the coloring of the skin. Melanomas are typically found on the skin of areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun. However, on rare occasions, they can develop in areas of the body that are never exposed to the sun. Melanoma is characterized by the presence of a dark-colored lesion that has uneven borders. Get more information about melanoma. Melanomas that form in the vagina typically manifest themselves in the lower or outer portion of the vagina when they are fully developed. 

  1. Sarcomas

There are a few distinct forms of these extremely rare tumors that can originate in the walls of the vagina. They develop and outgrow in the connective tissue cells or muscle cells. A very uncommon form of vaginal cancer that accounts for approximately 4% of cases. This particular form of cancer begins within the walls of the vagina rather than on the surface of the vagina. There are numerous subclassifications of sarcoma. The most common type is called Rhabdomyosarcoma, and it most frequently affects children. This particular form of vaginal cancer is considered to be a disease of childhood. It is more common in infants and very young children than it is in adult women, who only have a very small risk of developing the condition. Sarcomas do not develop on the surface of the vagina; rather, they develop deep within the vaginal wall, in the muscle, bone, or connective tissue.

  1. There are certain cancers that can affect both the vagina and the cervix, as well as both the vagina and the vulva. If this is the case, the cancer is named after the cervix or the vulva, as these are the locations that are thought to be the most likely sites where cancer first began to form.

Vaginal Cancer Staging

After a woman has been diagnosed with vaginal cancer, the next step for doctors is to determine whether cancer has spread, and if so, how far it has spread. The term for this procedure is staging. The extent to which cancer has spread throughout the body is indicated by the stage of the disease. It assists in determining the severity of cancer and the most effective method of treatment for it. When discussing survival rates, medical professionals frequently reference the stage of the patient’s cancer.

Cancer of the vaginal cervix can be diagnosed at stages ranging from I (1) to IV (4). As a general rule, a lower number indicates that cancer has not spread very far. If you have a higher stage number, such as stage IV, it indicates that cancer has spread further. Although everyone’s experience with cancer is different, cancers that are diagnosed at the same stage typically have a similar prognosis and are typically treated in a manner that is quite similar.

How To Determine The Stage Of Cancer

The FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) system along with the AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM staging system) system, which are both utilized for staging vaginal cancer, are, for the most part, equivalent to one another. When staging (or classifying) this cancer, they both make use of the following three key pieces of information:

The size of the tumor, also known as its extent, or T: How extensive is cancer, and has it spread to the lining of the vaginal cavity? Has cancer spread to neighboring tissues and organs, such as the wall of the pelvis? (The pelvis is the internal cavity that houses the internal female reproductive organs, as well as parts of the large intestine, the rectum, and the bladder.)

The disease had already spread to lymph nodes (N) in the area: Is there evidence that cancer has spread to the lymph nodes located in the pelvis or the groin (inguinal) region?

The dissemination (metastasis) to far-flung locations (M): Is there evidence that cancer has spread to lymph nodes or organs further away?

Following T, N, and M with numbers or letters provides additional information about each of these considerations. When the numbers are higher, it indicates that cancer has progressed further. When the T, N, and M categories of a person have been identified, the next step is a process called stage grouping, in which all of this information is combined and assigned an overall stage.

Stage 1

When referring to vaginal cancer, the term “stage 1” refers to the condition in which cancer has begun to grow into the wall of the vagina but has not yet spread further. Stage 1 is divided into 2 parts:

Stage 1A: If the cancer is only found in the vagina, it must be smaller than 2 centimeters and it must not have spread to the lymph nodes to be considered stage 1A. 

Stage 1B: Cancer of the vagina at the stage 1B level is defined as being larger than 2 centimeters but having not spread to lymph nodes located in close proximity to the vagina.

Stage 2

Stage 2 is split into two distinct groups that are as follows:

Stage 2A: When cancer has spread beyond the vagina into the surrounding tissues but has not yet reached the walls of the pelvis, it is referred to as stage 2A. You can open a glossary item or the lymph nodes that are nearby. The cancer is no more than 2 centimeters in size.

Stage 2B: Cancer has spread beyond the vagina into the surrounding tissues, but it has not yet reached the walls of the pelvis or the lymph nodes in the area. This is the second most advanced stage of vulvar cancer. The cancer is more than 2 centimeters in size.

Stage 3

This indicates that cancer has spread beyond the vagina and is now present on the side walls of the pelvis. When you go to urinate, you could experience complications as a result of this, such as pain or the presence of blood in your urine. There is also a possibility that cancer cells are present in lymph nodes that are located close to the vagina.

Stage 4

At this point, vaginal cancer has progressed significantly. This indicates that cancer has spread to other organs in the body in addition to the vagina. The fourth stage is broken up into two parts:

Stage 4A: If cancer has spread to your bladder or back passage, you are at stage 4A of the disease (rectum).

Stage 4B: When cancer has reached stage 4B, it has spread to organs that are further away from the primary tumor, such as the lungs or the bones.

Grading Of Vaginal Cancer

Grading is a method of classifying cancer cells into different categories according to the degree to which the cells resemble those of normal cells. This provides your doctor with an idea of how quickly or slowly cancer may progress and whether it is likely to spread to other areas of the body.

Grade 1

The cells have a very normal appearance to them. In some contexts, they may also be referred to as low grade or well-differentiated. Higher-grade cancer cells tend to grow more slowly and have a lower metastatic potential than lower-grade cancer cells.

Grade 2

The cells have taken on an abnormal appearance and are more likely to divide and spread. This grade is also referred to as the moderate grade or the moderately differentiated grade.

Grade 3

The cells have an extremely abnormal appearance and do not resemble normal cells at all. They have a propensity to develop rapidly and have a greater propensity to spread. They are sometimes referred to as high grade or poorly differentiated.

How Fast Does Vaginal Cancer Spread?

Cancer cells are created when certain cells undergo mutations that make it possible for them to rapidly grow and divide while also allowing them to continue living when normal cells would normally die. These cells have the potential to migrate to neighboring tissues and, eventually, to other organs and regions of the body.

When it first begins to form, vaginal cancer progresses very slowly and usually over the course of several years. The formation of a precancer is actually the first step in the process that leads to the development of vaginal cancer. Cells that are abnormal but not yet cancerous are referred to as precancerous cells. These abnormal cell types are referred to as Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia (VAIN) when they are found in the vagina. (An older term for the same condition is dysplasia, which you may also have heard used interchangeably with the term precancerous cells.) It is essential to treat precancerous conditions in order to stop precancerous cells from progressing into cancer. Even though precancerous cells do not in and of themselves pose a threat to a woman’s health, it is imperative that precancerous conditions be treated.

As soon as actual cancer cells begin to form, medical professionals, shift their attention to establishing how far cancer has spread throughout the body and determine whether or not it has spread to many other areas. Within a person’s body, cancer can spread in one of three different ways. Because cancer cells are able to invade neighboring tissue, cancer that begins in one reproductive organ frequently spreads to another reproductive organ that is located in close proximity. Additionally, there is a possibility that cancer cells could spread to other areas of the body by traveling through the lymph system or the blood. Metastasis is the name given to this process. If something like this occurs, there is a possibility that cancer will develop in another part of the body. However, the sooner the cancer is diagnosed and treated, the lower the risk that it will spread to other parts of the body.

Vaginal Cancer Diagnosis

The diagnosis of vaginal cancer can be made using a variety of different tests. The individual being evaluated will not necessarily have to take all of the tests that are described here. When selecting a diagnostic test, your physician may take into consideration the following factors:

  • The type of cancer present in the body
  • Your presenting symptoms and signs
  • Your age as well as your overall health
  • The results from earlier diagnostic procedures

In addition to the results of a physical exam, the following tests might be performed in order to make a diagnosis of vaginal cancer:

Pelvic Examination

The vagina, the rest of the reproductive tract, the bladder, and the rectum are all scrutinized by the attending physician in order to detect any abnormalities.

Pap Test

During a Pap test, the doctor will take a sample of cells for testing by scraping the outside of the vaginal canal and the cervix in a very gentle manner. During the test, you will most likely feel some pressure as the physician takes a sample of your cells, but you should not experience any pain. People older than 30 years old typically have the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test performed in conjunction with their Pap smear.

Colposcopy

In certain circumstances, such as when Pap or HPV tests produce abnormal results, the doctor may perform a colposcopy to examine the vagina and the cervix in search of any abnormalities. A colposcope is a specialized optical device that magnifies the vaginal and cervix surfaces in a manner analogous to that of a microscope. The colposcope offers the physician a lighted and magnified view of the vaginal and cervix tissues, which they can examine more closely. The colposcope is not inserted into the body at any point during the procedure. The examination does not cause any discomfort, it can be carried out in the doctor’s office, and it does not result in any adverse effects. This examination can be carried out even while the patient is pregnant.

Biopsy

A small amount of tissue is removed during a biopsy so that it can be examined more closely under a microscope. Although other tests may raise suspicion that cancer is present, a definitive diagnosis can only be attained through the use of a biopsy. A pathologist conducts an analysis of the specimen (s). A physician who specializes in the interpretation of laboratory tests and the evaluation of cells, tissues, and organs in order to diagnose disease is called a pathologist. The location of the tissue that is being biopsied will determine the kind of biopsy that is performed on the tissue.

If the results of the biopsy point to the presence of vaginal cancer, the primary care physician will send the patient to a gynecologic oncologist for treatment. This type of oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of vaginal cancer. Imaging tests might be recommended by the specialist in order to determine whether or not cancer has spread beyond the vagina.

Ultrasound

An ultrasound produces a picture of the internal organs by using sound waves to create the image.

Endoscopy

An endoscope is a thin, lighted, flexible tube that is used during an endoscopy to allow the physician to view the interior of the patient’s body. While the tube is being inserted through the mouth, anus, vagina, or urethra of the patient, or through a small surgical opening, the patient may be sedated. The administration of medication in order to achieve a state that is more relaxed, calm, or sleepy is known as sedation.

CT Scan

Computed tomography scan, also known as a CAT or CT scan. A computed tomography (CT) scan uses multiple projections of x-ray images to produce internal images of the patient’s body. These images are then combined by a computer to produce a comprehensive, three-dimensional picture that reveals any abnormalities or tumors. The extent of the tumor can be evaluated with the help of a CT scan. Before the scan, it is not uncommon for a specialized dye known as a contrast medium to be administered in order to improve the image’s level of detail. This dye can be administered to a patient via intravenous (IV) injection, or it can be taken orally in the form of a pill or liquid.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Instead of using x-rays, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine generates detailed images of the human body using magnetic fields. In order to produce a more distinct image, a contrast medium, which is a specialized dye, is applied before the scan. This dye can be administered to a patient via intravenous (IV) injection, or it can be taken orally in the form of a pill or liquid.

Positron Emission Tomography 

Positron emission tomography is also known as a PET scan or a PET-CT. The combination of a PET scan and a CT scan is typically referred to as a PET-CT scan. On the other hand, your physician might just refer to this process as a PET scan in casual conversation. A PET scan is a diagnostic procedure that can be used to generate images of the organs and tissues located within the body. A very minute quantity of a radioactive sugar substance is administered intravenously to the patient. The cells that consume the most energy are the ones that take in this sugar substance. Because cancer has a propensity to make active use of energy, it is able to absorb a greater quantity of radioactive substances. The uptake of sugar can also be increased by other conditions, such as infection or other causes of inflammation, which can have this effect. However, there is not enough radiation present in the substance for it to be dangerous on its own. Following this, a scanner will detect this substance in order to produce images of the internal organs.

Following the completion of the diagnostic procedures, your primary care physician will talk over the results of the tests with you. If it is determined that cancer is present, these results will help the doctor describe the severity of the disease. This technique is known as staging.

Vaginal Cancer Treatment

Patients who have been diagnosed with vaginal cancer have access to a variety of treatment options. Some treatments are considered the gold standard (the treatment that is most commonly used), while others are currently being evaluated in clinical trials. A clinical trial of treatment is a type of research study that is conducted to assist in the improvement of existing treatments or to obtain information on new treatments for patients who have cancer. If clinical tests demonstrate that a new treatment is superior to the treatment that is currently being used, then the new treatment might replace the treatment that is currently being used. Patients should give some thought to the possibility of taking part in a clinical trial. Patients who have not yet begun treatment may be eligible to participate in certain clinical trials.

Here are the major treatments that are followed to treat vaginal cancer:

#1 Surgery

Both Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia (also known as VaIN) and vaginal cancer are surgical conditions that are typically treated through surgical excision. The following varieties of surgical procedures might be utilized in the treatment of VaIN:

  1. Laser Surgery

The term “laser surgery” refers to a type of surgical procedure that makes use of a laser beam, which is a narrow beam of intense light, as a “knife” to make cuts in tissue that are free of blood loss or to remove a surface lesion such as a tumor.

  1. Wide Local Excision

The term “wide local excision” refers to a type of surgical procedure that removes cancer as well as some of the healthy tissue surrounding it.

  1. Vaginectomy

Surgical removal of all or part of the vagina is referred to as a vaginectomy. It’s possible that reconstructing the vagina will require skin grafts taken from other areas of the body.

  1. Total hysterectomy

A total hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes both the uterus and the cervix. A vaginal hysterectomy is a name given to the procedure that refers to the removal of the uterus and the cervix through the vagina. When both the uterus and the cervix are removed during surgery, the procedure is referred to as a total abdominal hysterectomy. This type of hysterectomy is performed through a large incision (cut) in the abdomen. A total laparoscopic hysterectomy is a medical term for an operation in which the uterus and the cervix are removed through a relatively small incision in the abdomen with the assistance of a laparoscope.

  1. Lymph Node Dissection

A lymph node dissection is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of lymph nodes and the subsequent examination of a sample of tissue for any indications of cancer using a microscope. A lymphadenectomy is another name for this surgical procedure. It’s possible that the pelvic lymph nodes will need to be removed if the cancer is in the upper vagina. It’s possible that lymph nodes in the groin will need to be removed if the cancer is in the lower vagina.

  1. Pelvic Exenteration 

Exenteration of the pelvis is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the lower colon, rectum, bladder, cervix, vagina, and ovaries. It is also necessary to remove lymph nodes that are nearby. Stomas are artificial openings that are made in the body to allow urine and stool to exit the body and flow into a collection bag.

  1. Adjuvant Therapy

Some patients are recommended to undergo radiation therapy after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells. This is done even if the surgeon was successful in removing all visible signs of cancer during the initial surgery. Adjuvant therapy is a type of treatment that is administered after primary surgical treatment in order to reduce the likelihood that cancer will return.

#2 Radiotherapy

Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer that involves subjecting cancer cells to high-energy x-rays or other forms of radiation in order to kill them or prevent them from growing. Radiation therapy can be broken down into two categories:

  1. External Radiation Therapy

The radiation for external radiation therapy comes from a machine that is placed outside of the patient’s body and directed toward the area of the body where the cancer is located.

  1. Internal Radiation Therapy

In internal radiation therapy, a radioactive substance is encased in a needle, seed, wire, or catheter and delivered directly into or in close proximity to the area where the cancer is located.

The type and stage of the cancer being treated will determine the specifics of how the radiation therapy will be administered. Radiation therapy, both external and internal, is utilized in the treatment of vaginal cancer. Radiation therapy may also be utilized as palliative therapy in order to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.

#3 Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a treatment for cancer that involves the use of drugs in order to stop the growth of cancer cells. This can be accomplished in one of two ways: either by killing the cells or by preventing them from dividing. The chemotherapy drugs are absorbed into the bloodstream when the treatment is either taken orally or injected into a vein or muscle. This allows the drugs to affect cancer cells located anywhere in the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy drugs are administered in a manner that causes them to be absorbed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs have the greatest impact on cancer cells located in those specific locations (regional chemotherapy). The type and stage of cancer that is being treated will determine how the chemotherapy is administered to the patient.

Squamous cell vaginal cancer treatment can be administered topically in the form of a cream or lotion and is known as topical chemotherapy.

#4 Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a form of cancer treatment in which the patient’s own immune system is utilized to combat the disease. In order to boost, direct, or restore the body’s natural defenses against cancer, substances that are either produced by the body itself or manufactured in a laboratory are used. This approach to treating cancer is a form of therapy known as biological therapy.

The topical cream form of the immune response modifier imiquimod, which is currently under investigation for use in the treatment of vaginal lesions, is applied to the skin.

#5 Radiosensitizers

Radiosensitizers are drugs that make cancer cells more vulnerable to the effects of radiation treatment. It is possible that more tumor cells will be eliminated when radiation therapy is combined with radiosensitizers.

#6 Vaginal Reconstruction

During vaginal reconstruction, the vagina is removed and a new or artificial vagina is created in its place (vaginectomy). If your cancer has spread into the tissues that are nearby, you may require a more extensive surgical procedure. Your physician may decide to remove a portion or the entirety of the vagina, your womb, and the cervix, along with all of the tissues that support your womb. This type of hysterectomy is referred to as a radical hysterectomy.

What Can You Do For Vaginal Cancer?

There are many ways to reduce your risk of developing vaginal cancer. You can reduce your risk by getting regular Pap smears, being physically active, avoiding smoking, and using birth control methods that protect against STIs. If you notice any changes in your vaginal discharge, such as a change in color, odor, or shape, you should see your doctor. And if you are diagnosed with cancer then depending on your stage, your doctor will recommend you to undergo one of the above-mentioned treatments. 

Do You Have Chemo For Vaginal Cancer?

Yes, you can undergo chemotherapy for vaginal cancer. Chemotherapy is a type of treatment that can help treat many different types of cancer. Chemotherapy helps to shrink and destroy tumors in the vagina. There are a few things to keep in mind when undergoing vaginal cancer chemotherapy:

  • Make sure to take all the medications as prescribed by your doctor. If you don’t take them, your doctor may give you another medication to make up for it.
  • Try not to get too sick during your treatment. If you do become sick, make sure to let your doctor know so that he or she can adjust your treatment plan accordingly.
  • Make sure you are comfortable during your treatment. Some women find wearing a wig or loose-fitting clothing helpful during their treatments

What Is The Cure Rate For Vaginal Cancer?

.Your speedy recovery is contingent on a lot of different factors. The stage your cancer was in when your doctor discovered it is the most important factor. When caught in its earliest stages, vaginal cancer is frequently curable by medical professionals. Your age, your overall health, the stage of your cancer, whether the cancer is new or has returned, and whether it caused symptoms are all factors that can affect your speed of recovery.

Vaginal Cancer Survival Rate

Survival rates for women who are in stages I and II are approximately 67% after five years. This indicates that 67% of women are still alive five years after receiving a diagnosis or treatment for vaginal cancer. The survival rate comes out to approximately 47% when all stages are considered together.

Vaginal Cancer Prevention

Even though you might not be able to get your risk of vaginal cancer down to zero, there are still things you can do to help lower it, including the following:

  1. You should take preventative measures to lower your risk of HPV. This includes getting the HPV vaccine and using barrier methods such as condoms or other methods whenever you engage in sexual activity of any kind, be it vaginal, oral, or anal. Consult a medical professional or another healthcare provider if you are interested in learning more about the HPV vaccine.
  2. If you are a smoker, you should think about quitting. Cigarette smoking is a major contributor to the development of vaginal cancer as well as other cancers. The following are some suggestions that will assist you in getting started.
  3. Consume alcohol only in moderation. There is some evidence that consuming large amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of developing vaginal cancer.
  4. Get regular pelvic exams and Pap smears. Your doctor or another healthcare provider will be able to find precancers before they develop into vaginal cancers or find vaginal cancer early before it spreads or causes serious symptoms with this information.

Wrapping Up

Vaginal cancer is a serious problem that requires early detection and treatment. Anyone who experiences any unusual or persistent changes in their vaginal mucosa should see their doctor. In addition, women should be advised to regularly check their vaginal discharge for signs of infection and to avoid smoking and using sun exposure to prevent skin cancer. Finally, regular gynecological exams can help detect changes in the vagina early, when they are most treatable. If you think that you are facing any symptoms then you should rush to your doctor and make sure that you treat all the early signs and symptoms of vaginal cancer. In this article, we have discussed all the important points related to vaginal cancer. You refer to this article whenever you want to read or gain some information about vaginal cancer!

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