Vaginal cancer develops in the muscular tube that connects your uterus with your outer genitalia, or vagina. It most frequently develops in the cells that line your vagina.
While many different cancers can migrate from other parts of your body to your vagina, primary vaginal cancer, which starts in your vagina, is uncommon.
The likelihood of a cure is highest when vaginal cancer is discovered in its early stages. Treatment for vaginal cancer that has spread outside of the vagina is more challenging.
Early vaginal cancer may not cause any signs and symptoms. As it progresses, vaginal cancer may cause signs and symptoms such as:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as after intercourse or after menopause
- Vaginal discharge that is watery
- Vaginal lump or mass
- Painful urination
- Urinary frequency
- Pelvic pain
If you experience any indications of vaginal cancer, such as unusual vaginal bleeding, consult your doctor.
The exact cause of vaginal cancer is unknown. Cancer typically starts when normal cells undergo a genetic mutation that transforms them into abnormal cells.
Healthy cells develop and proliferate at a specific rate before dying at a specific period. Cancer cells do not die; instead, they proliferate and reproduce uncontrollably. A tumor which is a mass of abnormal cells develop as they accumulate.
The tissues surrounding can be invaded by cancer cells after breaking off from the primary tumor and therefore causing a spread in the body to other organs (metastasize).
Vaginal cancer risk factors include the following:
- Increasing age. As you become older, your chance of vaginal cancer rises. The majority of vaginal cancer patients are over 60 years old.
- Having Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia (VAIN). Your chance of developing vaginal cancer rises if you are given a diagnosis of vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN).
Vaginal cells with VAIN resemble abnormal cells, but not abnormally enough to be classified as cancer. Vaginal cancer can occur in a tiny percentage of VAIN patients, while it’s unclear why some cases progress to malignancy while others remain benign.
The sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), which among other things can lead to cervical, vaginal, and vulvar malignancies, is a common cause of VAIN.
- Taking medication for prevent miscarriage. If your mother used the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) while she was pregnant in the 1950s, you may be at a higher risk of developing clear cell adenocarcinoma, a specific type of vaginal cancer.
The following risk elements have also been connected to a higher risk of vaginal cancer:
- HIV infection
- Multiple sexual partners
- Sexual intercourse at an early age