Vaginal Cancer Pictures
Vaginal cancer is only one of several types of cancers of the female reproductive organ. It is a rare cancer that occurs within the vaginal tissue. There are only about 2,000 reported cases in the US each year. Along with vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer account for less than 7% of all cancers of the female reproductive organ. It is more common for cancer to start in other organs (such as the cervix, uterus, rectum, or bladder) and then spread to the vagina.
Vaginal cancer develops very slowly over several years as pre-cancer in the cells of the tube connecting the uterus to the outer genitals. This is sometimes referred to as the birth canal. Precancerous cells are cells that are abnormal but still benign.
There are four main types of vaginal cancer of which two make up 85% of all cases. About 70% of primary vaginal cancers start in skin cells called squamous cells and 15% develop in gland cells called adenocarcinoma. The two less common are melanoma which occurs on the lower or outer vagina, and sarcomas which begin in cells of bones, muscles, or tissue inside the vaginal walls.
Vaginal cancer often does not cause early symptoms and may be found during a routine pelvic exam and Pap smear.
Symptoms to watch for include: infection, redness, pain, warm sensations, swelling, fever, pain in the pelvis, back or leg, leg swelling, chronic cough, and/or abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Vaginal cancer can be treated and often cured. Treatment is most effective when the cancer is located only on the vagina and has not spread to any other parts of the body.
Treatment for vaginal cancer can be local or systemic. Local treatments remove, destroy, or manage the cancer in a certain location. Surgery and radiation are local treatments and are the most commonly used to treat vaginal cancer. Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells throughout the whole body. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that may be may be used as just one treatment or a combination of treatments.