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Vaginal cancer: Causes, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Vaginal Cancer?

risk factors What does the word “cancer” bring to mind? For many people it evokes images of advanced-stage tumors growing in the body But in reality cancer begins much earlier. Cancer risk is a complicated mix of hereditary and genetic predisposition combined with environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle choices.

Medical experts have reviewed this information and found it to be true.

Vaginal cancer happens when cells that are cancerous grow in your vagina.

A woman's vagina is a channel that leads from the opening of her uterus to the outside of her body. Many kinds of cancer can spread from somewhere else, but cancer that starts in a woman's vagina is rare. There are about 6000 new cases in the United States each year.


What is Vaginal Cancer

Explanation of medical terms and concept Vaginal cancer

Vaginal cancer is a rare cancer that occurs in your vagina — the muscular tube that connects your womb along with your outer genitals. canal willcer most ordinarily happens within the cells that line the surface of your canal, that is typically referred to as the birth canal. whereas many styles of cancer can unfold to your vagina from alternative places in your body, cancer that begins in your vagina (primary vaginal cancer) is rare. A designation of early-stage vaginal cancer has the simplest likelihood for a cure. Canal cancer that spreads on the far side of the vagina is far tougher to treat. 

Cancer of the vagina is less common than cancer of the cervix and reproductive organs The vaginal canal connects the cervix (the lower part of uterus) to the external genitals Cancer can occur in any part of a woman's reproductive system This area includes not only the upper wall of vagina but also on its lining called epithelium and endocervical canal (connects endometrial cavity to vaginal canal).

Symptoms Vaginal cancer

If you have vaginal cancer, it might not cause any symptoms. Your doctor might find it during a routine exam or Pap test.

If you have symptoms, they might include:

  • Unusual bleeding from your vagina

  • If there is a discharge from your vagina that is watery or has a bad smell, it may be because of something you are doing wrong. Make sure to take care of your health by following the instructions in this article.

  • Pain in your pelvis

  • Pain when having sex

  • Pain when peeing

  • Peeing more than usual

  • Constipation

  • A lump in your vagina

If you notice any of these symptoms, it does not mean you have cancer. You could just have an infection. But it is important to get checked out.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have got any signs and symptoms relating to epithelial duct cancer, appreciate abnormal vaginal bleeding. Since vaginal cancer doesn't continually cause signs and symptoms, follow your doctor' recommendations concerning once you ought to have routine girdle exams.

Causes Vaginal cancer

It's not clear what causes epithelial duct cancer. In general, cancer begins once healthy cells acquire a change that turns traditional cells into abnormal cells. Healthy cells grow and multiply at a collection rate, eventually dying at a set time. Cancer cells grow and multiply out of control, and that they don't die. The accumulating abnormal cells kind a mass (tumor). Cancer cells invade nearby  tissues and may break faraway from an initial growth to unfold elsewhere within the body (metastasize). 

Most cases of vaginal cancer don't have a clear cause. However, most are caused by an HPV infection, which is the most common STD. If an HPV infection remains untreated, it can lead to cervical and vaginal cancer. Cancer is a disease that can happen to any part of the body.

If you have vaginal cancer, you might also be more likely to get it if you:

  • Are 60 or older

  • Were exposed to DES

  • Drink alcohol

  • If you have cervical cancer or precancerous lesions, you should see a doctor.

  • Have HIV

  • Smoke

  • There are unusual cells in your vagina called vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN).

Types of vaginal cancer

Vaginal cancer is split into differing kinds supporting the sort of cell wherever the cancer began. channel cancer types include:

  • Vaginal squamous cell carcinoma, which begins in the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) that line the surface of the vagina, and is the most common type

  • Vaginal adenocarcinoma, which begins in the glandular cells on the surface of your vagina

  • Vaginal melanoma, which develops in the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) of your vagina

  • Vaginal sarcoma, which develops in the connective tissue cells or muscles cells in the walls of your vagina

There are different types of cancer that can affect the vagina.

A type of cancer that affects the squamous cells. Cancer can form in the thin, flat cells that line your vagina. This form of cancer is spread slowly and tends to stay close to where it starts. It can also move into other parts of the body, like the liver, lungs, or bones. Women over 50 are most likely to get this type of cancer. More new cases of cancer are in women aged 60 and up.

Adenocarcinoma.This type of HPV starts in the cells in the lining of your vagina, which produce mucus and other fluids. It's more likely to spread to other areas in your body, including your lungs and lymph nodes (small organs that filter out harmful things in your body) in your groin.

Clear cell carcinoma.This type of cancer is rare. It often affects women who were exposed to a hormone called diethylstilbestrol (DES) during their early pregnancy. DES was often used to prevent miscarriage and other problems between 1938 and 1971.

Vaginal cancer can form in different parts of the body, but it is rarer to find it in connective tissue or muscle cells (sarcoma) or in cells that produce pigment (melanoma).

Risk factors Vaginal cancer

Factors that may increase your risk of vaginal cancer include:

  • Increasing age. Your risk of channel cancer will increase as you age. Most of the people who are diagnosed with vaginal cancer are older than 60. 

  • Atypical cells in the vagina called vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia. Being diagnosed with duct intraepithelial pathological process (VAIN) will increase your risk of ductal cancer. With VAIN, cells within the vagina seem totally different from traditional cells, however not different enough to be thought-about cancer. attiny low variety of these with VAIN can eventually develop vaginal cancer, although doctors aren't certain what causes some cases to transform cancer et al. to stay benign. VAIN is often caused by the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), which might cause cervical, vaginal and female genitalia cancers, among others. Vaccines that forestall some kinds of HPV infection are available. 

  • Exposure to miscarriage prevention drug. If your mother took a drug referred to as stilbestrol (DES) whereas pregnant within the Nineteen Fifties you will have an associated degree of multiplied risk of a definite variety of canal cancer called clear cell adenocarcinoma. 

Other risk factors that have been linked to an increased risk of vaginal cancer include:

  • Multiple sexual partners

  • Early age at first intercourse

  • Smoking

  • HIV infection

Complications

Vaginal cancer could unfold (metastasize) to distant areas of your body, admire your lungs, liver and bones.

Prevention

There is no sure way to prevent vaginal cancer. However, you may reduce your risk if you:

  • Undergo regular pelvic exams and Pap tests. You can increase the possibility that canal cancer is discovered early by having routine girdle exams and Pap tests. Once discovered in its earliest stages, vaginal cancer is probably cured. visit your doctor when to start these tests and the way typically to repeat them. 

  • Ask your doctor about the HPV vaccine. Receiving a vaccination to forestall HPV infection might cut back your risk of duct cancer Associate in Nursing different HPV-related cancers. raise your doctor whether or not an HPV immunizing agent is suitable for you. 

  • Don't smoke. If you smoke, quit. If you don't smoke, don't start. Smoking increases the risk of vaginal cancer.

The best way to keep yourself safe from HPV is by getting the Gardasil vaccine. The FDA has approved this vaccine to protect people from the seven most common types of HPV that can cause cancer. The vaccine is for people aged 9 to 45. Younger patients need fewer shots to be fully protected.

Some lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk of vaginal cancer:

  • Wait until your late teens or beyond to have sex.

  • Don't have sex with more than one person.

  • Do not have sex with someone who is already sexually active with more than one person.

  • Use condoms during sex.

  • Get regular Pap exams.

  • If you smoke, stop. If you don't smoke, don't start.

Diagnosis Vaginal cancer

If your doctor finds that you have a problem, they may want to do a colposcopy. This is a procedure in which a lighted magnifying tool called a colposcopy is used to look at your vagina and cervix.

They might remove a bit of tissue from the sample for a specialist to look at under a microscope. This is called a biopsy.

Vaginal cancer is sometimes found during a routine pelvic exam before signs and symptoms become evident. 

During a pelvic exam, your doctor fastidiously inspects the outer genitals, so inserts 2 fingers of 1 hand into your channel and at the same time presses the opposite hand on your abdomen to feel your female internal reproductive organ and ovaries. He or she also inserts a tool known as a speculum into your vagina. The speculum opens your duct canal in order that your doctor can check your vagina and cervix for abnormalities. Your doctor can also do a Pap test. Pap tests typically want to screen for cervical cancer, however typically duct cancer cells are detected on a Pap test. However, often you endure these screenings depending on your risk factors for cancer and whether or not you've had abnormal Pap tests within the past. consult with your doctor regarding how often you ought to have these health screenings.

Tests to diagnose vaginal cancer

Your doctor may conduct a girdle communicating and smear test to examine for abnormalities that will indicate channel cancer. supported those findings, your doctor may conduct different procedures to work out whether or not you have got vaginal cancer, such as:

  • Inspecting the vagina with a magnifying instrument. Colposcopy is AN examination of your duct with a special lighted amplifying instrument referred to as a colposcope. Colposcopy permits your doctor to magnify the surface of your vagina to visualize any areas of abnormal cells. 

  • Removing a sample of vaginal tissue for testing. Biopsy could be a procedure to get rid of a sample of suspicious tissue to check for cancer cells. Your doctor could take a diagnostic test of tissue throughout a colposcopy exam. Your doctor sends the tissue sample to a laboratory for testing. 

Staging

Once your doctor diagnoses duct cancer, steps are going to be taken to see the extent of the cancer — a method known as staging. The stage of your cancer helps your doctor decide what treatments are acceptable for you. so as to determine the stage of your cancer, your doctor might use:

  • Imaging tests. Your doctor could order imaging tests to work out whether or not cancer has spread. Imaging tests may embrace X-rays, computed axial tomography (CT) scans, resonance imaging (MRI) or antielectron emission tomography (PET). 

  • Tiny cameras to see inside your body. Procedures that use little cameras to examine within your body might facilitate your doctor confirming whether or not cancer has spread to certain areas. Cameras help your doctor see inside your bladder (cystoscopy) and your body part (proctoscopy). 

Treatment Vaginal cancer

Your treatment choices for channel cancer rely on many factors, as well as the kind of vaginal cancer you've got and its stage. You and your doctor work along to see what treatments are best for you and support your goals of treatment and therefore the facet effects you're willing to endure. Treatment for vaginal cancer generally includes surgery and radiation. 

You and your doctor will decide on treatment based on many factors, including how close the cancer is to other organs, its stage, whether you've had radiation therapy in your pelvic area, and whether you've had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).

Your doctor may recommend one or more of these treatments:

SurgeryTreatment options include surgery. Your doctor may use a laser to cut out tissue or tumors. In some cases they might remove all or part of your vagina. You may need surgery to remove your uterus, cervix, or other organs.

After surgery, many women can have a normal sex life. However, sex can increase your chances of infection and may cause bleeding or strain the surgical site. Your doctor will advise you on what is safe to do and when it is safe.

Radiation therapy. This treatment uses high-powered X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill the cancerous cells. Your doctor might use a machine that sends X-rays into your body or they could inject a radioactive substance near the cancerous cells.

Radiation treatments in your pelvic area can damage your ovaries. This can lead to menopause symptoms, like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. If you’ve recently gone through menopause, you probably won’t experience these problems.

This type of therapy might cause irritation and pain to healthy tissue. Your vagina might get swollen and tender. Sex may be uncomfortable.

Chemotherapy (“chemo”). This treatment uses medication to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells. You might take the medication by mouth or get it injected directly into a vein (intravenous or IV). In some cases your doctor might give you a chemotherapy treatment in lotion or cream form.

You may have a decrease in sex drive or some side effects like nausea, hair loss, and changes in body weight. These will go away after treatment is complete.

Surgery

Types of surgery that may be used to treat vaginal cancer include:

  • Removal of small tumors or lesions. Cancer restricted to the surface of your channel could also be cut away, alongside a little margin of close healthy tissue to confirm that every one of the cancer cells are removed. 

  • Removal of the vagina (vaginectomy). Removing a part of your canal (partial vaginectomy) or your entire vagina (radical vaginectomy) could also be necessary to get rid of all of the cancer. betting on the extent of your cancer, your Dr. might suggest surgery to remove your female internal reproductive organ and ovaries (hysterectomy) and near  humor nodes (lymphadenectomy) at constant time as your vaginectomy. 

  • Removal of the majority of the pelvic organs (pelvic exenteration). This intensive surgery is also an associate choice if cancer has developed throughout your girdle space or if your epithelial duct cancer has recurred. Throughout pelvic exenteration, the doc may take away several of the organs in your pelvic area, together with your bladder, ovaries, uterus, canal, body part and also the lower portion of your colon. Openings are created in your abdomen to permit weewee (urostomy) and waste (colostomy) to exit your body and collect in surgical operation bags. If your vagina is totally removed, you'll value it more highly to endure surgery to construct a replacement vagina. Surgeons use items of skin, sections of gut or flaps of muscle from alternative areas of your body to make a replacement canal. With some adjustments, a reconstructed vagina permits you to possess epithelial duct intercourse. However, a reconstructed vagina isn't as constant as your own vagina. For instance, a reconstructed vagina lacks natural lubrication and creates a special sensation once touched because of changes in close nerves. 

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Radiation can be delivered two ways:

  • External radiation. External beam radiation is directed at your entire abdomen or simply your pelvis, looking at the extent of your cancer. Throughout external beam radiation, you're positioned on a table and an outsized radiation machine is maneuvered around you so as to focus on the treatment area. Most girls with duct cancer receive external beam radiation. 

  • Internal radiation. During internal radiation (brachytherapy), hot devices — seeds, wires, cylinders or alternative materials — are placed in your canal or the encompassing tissue. once a collection quantity of time, the devices additionally be|is also} removed. Those with terribly early-stage epithelial duct cancer may receive internal radiation only. Others may receive internal radiation after undergoing external radiation. Actinotherapy kills quickly growing cancer cells, however it should also injure close healthy cells, inflicting facet effects. facet effects of radiation rely upon the radiation' intensity and wherever it' aimed. 

Other options

If surgery and radiation can't management your cancer, you'll be offered alternative treatments, including:

  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. It isn't clear whether or not chemotherapy is beneficial for treating channel cancer. For this reason, chemotherapy usually isn't used on its own to treat vaginal cancer. therapy is also used throughout irradiation to reinforce the effectiveness of radiation. 

  • Clinical trials. Clinical trials are experiments to check new treatment methods. whereas a test offers you an opportunity to do the newest treatment advances, a cure isn't guaranteed. Discuss out there clinical trials together with your doctor to better perceive your options, or contact the National Cancer Institute or the yankee Cancer Society to seek out what clinical trials can be available to you. 

Supportive (palliative) care

Palliative care is specialized medical aid that focuses on providing relief from pain and other symptoms of a heavy illness. Palliative care specialists work with you, your family and your other doctors to produce an additional layer of support that enhances your current care. Once palliative care is employed beside all of the opposite acceptable treatments, individuals with cancer could feel higher and live longer. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specially trained professionals. Palliative care groups aim to enhance the standard of life for people with cancer and their families. this way of care is obtainable aboard curative or alternative treatments you will be receiving. 

Your recovery depends on many factors. The most important thing is the stage at which your doctor found your cancer. If it was discovered early, doctors may be able to cure your vaginal cancer.

The five-year survival rate for women at stage I and II is around 67%. This means that 5 years after they were diagnosed or treated, about 67% of these women are still alive. The five-year survival rate for all stages combined is 47%.

Your age, overall health, and whether you have cancer or are experiencing symptoms all play a role in your recovery.

Coping and support

How you reply to your cancer designation is unique. could} wish to surround yourself with friends and family, otherwise you may fire time alone to type through your feelings. The shock and confusion of your diagnosis may leave you feeling lost and unsure of yourself. to assist you cope, attempt to:

  • Learn enough about your cancer to make decisions about your care. Write down the inquiries to raise at your next doctor appointment. Get a disciple or loved one to come back to appointments with you to require notes. raise your health care team for more sources of information. The more you recognize regarding your condition, the more leisurely you'll feel once it comes time to create selections about your treatment. 

  • Maintain intimacy with your partner. Vaginal cancer treatments are doubtless to cause aspect effects that create sexual intimacy harder for you and your partner. If treatment makes sex painful or quickly impossible, attempt to notice new ways that of maintaining intimacy. Disbursal quality time alone and having meaty conversations are ways to make your emotional intimacy. Once you're prepared for physical intimacy, take it slowly. If sexual side effects of your cancer treatment are symptom your relationship along with your partner, see your doctor. He or she may provide ways to agitate sexual side effects and will refer you to a specialist. 

  • Create a support network. Having friends and family supporting you'll be able to be valuable. you will realize it helps to speak with somebody concerning your emotions. different sources of support embrace social staff and psychologists — raise your doctor for a referral if you're feeling such as you would like someone to talk to. speak along with your pastor, rabbi or other non secular leader. People with cancer can give a novel perspective and should perceive what you're going through, so take into account the change of integrity of a support cluster — whether or not it's in your community or online. Contact the yankee Cancer Society for additional info on support groups. 

Preparing for your appointment

Start by creating a meetinging|a rendezvous} together with your general practitioner or a specialist if you've got any signs or symptoms that worry you. If it's determined that you just have channel cancer, you'll possibly be stated as a doctor who specializes in cancers of the feminine system (gynecologic oncologist). As a result, appointments are brief and there's often tons of ground to cover, it's an honest plan to be well-prepared. Here's some info to assist you get ready, and what you'll expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.

  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.

  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.

  • Ask a family member or friend to come with you. Sometimes it is tough to soak up all the data provided throughout AN appointment. somebody who accompanies you will keep in mind one thing that you just incomprehensible or forgot. 

  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Your time together with your doctor is constrained, so making ready a list of questions beforehand of time allows you to make the maximum of it slow collectively. List your questions from maximum crucial to least important in case time runs out. For vaginal cancer, a few fundamental questions to ask your health practitioner consist of:

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?

  • Are there any other possible causes for my symptoms?

  • What kinds of tests do I need?

  • What types of treatments are available? What kinds of side effects can I expect from each treatment? How will these treatments affect my sexuality?

  • What do you think is the best course of action for me?

  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?

  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?

  • Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?

  • Has my cancer spread? What stage is it?

  • What's my prognosis?

  • Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?

  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared in advance, don't hesitate to ask questions as they occur to you during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor will probably have some questions for you. If you're ready to reply to them, it can help make time for additional questions you might have. Your medical doctor may also ask:

  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms?

  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?

  • How severe are your symptoms?

  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?

  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?

  • Do you know if your mother took DES when she was pregnant with you?

  • Do you have any personal history of cancer?

  • Have you ever been told you have HPV?

  • Have you ever had an abnormal Pap test?

General summary

Vaginal cancer is rare accounting for only about 2 percent of all cases of female reproductive organ cancers It develops in the cells that line the vagina and other parts of the lower female reproductive tract Most types are strongly linked to infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) which can be transmitted through sexual contact The two most common symptoms of vaginal cancer are abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge depending on how advanced it has progressed It is important to see a doctor if you notice unusual bleeding or discharge from your vagina because these may not be early warning signs of cancer Other symptoms include difficulty urinating pelvic pain.

What is the cure rate for vaginal cancer?

The cure rate for vaginal cancer is high If cervical or vulvar lesions are diagnosed early the cancer has not spread to lymph nodes or other organs and it is removed by surgery the cure rate approaches 100% The majority of patients who have carcinoma in situ (early stage) of vaginal epithelium also have a very good chance of a long-term benefit from treatment Once the disease spreads to distant organs such as the liver lungs or bones then its prognosis worsens significantly In these cases radiation therapy may be used to decrease symptoms and prolong life.

How often is cancer found after hysterectomy?

Cancer of the uterus is relatively rare with about 50 cases diagnosed in every 100,000 women each year It's more common after menopause than before it and older women are also at greater risk for cancer in the area where the uterus was removed The cancer is rarely found during routine physical exams or MRIs; nearly all cancers are found when symptoms appear That makes regular checkups important to catch any abnormalities early.

What are the chances of getting cervical cancer after a hysterectomy?

According to the National Cancer Institute a hysterectomy is one of the most important nonsurgical methods for preventing cervical cancer Removing the cervix and surrounding tissue decreases a woman's chances of developing this type of cancer by almost 100 percent However not everyone is a candidate for this procedure; women who get frequent Pap smears can keep their cervixes until testing reveals changes that indicate cervical cancer If you are undergoing hormone replacement therapy treatment and need your cervix removed because of an abnormal Pap smear diagnosis then your chance of getting cervical cancer later in life increases again.

Can you get vulvar cancer after a total hysterectomy?

Vulvar cancer is a rare disease that only affects about 2 out of every 100,000 women It occurs in the vulva or external female genitalia Women with a history of infertility are at the highest risk for this disease If you have had a total hysterectomy removing not just your uterus but also your cervix and ovaries then you would be at very low risk because these organs are thought to be the most susceptible to developing vulvar cancer following removal during surgery.

Do you get a Pap smear after hysterectomy?

If you no longer have a cervix that means Pap smears won't be necessary for cervical cancer screening anymore Keep in mind though that your risk of developing certain cancers still remains the same Cervical cancer isn't the only type of cancer related to your reproductive organs -- ovarian uterine and vaginal cancers also exist Stay on top of your health by seeing your doctor regularly and doing self-exams to spot any changes as soon as they happen.

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Vaginal cancer: Causes, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

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