Programs / Events




Click on the type of cancer you would like to know more about.

Vaginal tumors



Alternative Name

Vaginal cancer; Cancer - vagina; Tumor - vaginal

Overview

A vaginal tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the vagina, a female reproductive organ.


Review Date: 1/31/2010

Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.



A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2009 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com

Risk Factors

Most cancerous vaginal tumors occur when another cancer, such as cervical or endometrial cancer, spreads. This is called secondary vaginal cancer.

Primary vaginal cancer is very rare. Most primary vaginal cancers start in skin cells called squamous cells. The rest are adenocarcinoma (6%), melanoma (3%), and sarcoma (3%).

The cause of squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina is unknown. However, up to 30% of patients have had cervical cancer.

About 75% of patients with squamous cell cancer of the vagina are over 50. Adenocarcinomas of the vagina more commonly affect younger women. The average age at which adenocarcinoma of the vagina is diagnosed is 19.

Women whose mothers took diethylstilbestrol (DES, which was prescribed to prevent miscarriages) during the first 3 months of pregnancy are at increased risk for developing adenocarcinoma.

Sarcoma botryoides of the vagina is a rare type of cancer that mainly occurs in infancy and early childhood.

Signs/Symptoms

  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • Painless vaginal bleeding and discharge
  • Pain in the pelvis or vagina

About 5 - 10% of patients have no symptoms.

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you notice bleeding after intercourse or have persistent vaginal bleeding or discharge.

Treatment

Treatment of vaginal cancer depends on the type of cancer, and how far the disease has spread.

Surgery is sometimes used to remove the cancer, but most patients are treated with radiation. If the tumor is cervical cancer that has spread to the vagina, then radiation and chemotherapy are both given.

Sarcoma botryoides may be treated with a combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.

Prevention

There are no definite ways to prevent this cancer. You can increase your chances of early detection by getting regular yearly pelvic examinations and Pap smears.

Outlook

How well patients with vaginal cancer do depends on the stage of disease and the specific type of tumor.


Complications

Vaginal cancer may spread to other areas of the body. Complications can occur from radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy.

Signs & Testing

In patients with no symptoms, the cancer may be found during a routine pelvic examination and Pap smear.

Other tests to diagnose vaginal tumors include:

  • Biopsy
  • Colposcopy

Other tests that may be done include:

  • Chest x-ray
  • CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis