Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.
Helping you to understand
At Gynae Solution, we will use plain language to explain what you have, what the treatment options are and what your prognosis is in terms you can understand.
What are the symptoms of Vaginal Cancer?
Early vaginal cancer may not cause any signs and symptoms. As it progresses, vaginal cancer may cause signs and symptoms such as the following:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding, for example, after intercourse or after menopause
- Watery vaginal discharge
- A lump or mass in your vagina
- Painful urination
- Frequent urination
- Pelvic pain
Below we will explain how Vaginal Cancer is diagnosed and treatment options available to you.
How is Vaginal Cancer diagnosed?
Vaginal cancer is sometimes found during a routine pelvic exam before signs and symptoms become evident.
During a pelvic exam, your doctor carefully inspects the outer genitals, and then inserts two fingers of one hand into your vagina and simultaneously presses the other hand on your abdomen to feel your uterus and ovaries. Your doctor will also insert a device called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum opens your vaginal canal so that your doctor can check your vagina and cervix for abnormalities.
Your doctor may also do a Pap test. Pap tests are usually used to screen for cervical cancer, but sometimes vaginal cancer cells can be detected on a Pap test.
Your doctor may decide to conduct a pelvic exam and Pap test to check for abnormalities that may indicate vaginal cancer. Depending on those findings, your doctor may conduct other procedures to determine whether you have vaginal cancer, such as:
- Inspecting the vagina with a magnifying instrument. Colposcopy is an examination of your vagina with a special lighted magnifying instrument called a colposcope. Colposcopy allows your doctor to magnify the surface of your vagina to see any areas of abnormal cells.
- Removing a sample of vaginal tissue for testing. Biopsy is a procedure to remove a sample of suspicious tissue to test for cancer cells. Your doctor may take a biopsy of tissue during a colposcopy exam. Your doctor sends the tissue sample to a laboratory for testing.
Listening to you
It's important to find a consultant who will listen to your concerns to help explain and answer any questions you might have.
How is Vaginal Cancer treated?
The type of treatment your consultant recommends depends on the type of vaginal cancer you have, how far the cancer has spread, your overall health, and your preferences.
Surgery is the removal of the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue during an operation. The type of surgery used depends on the stage of the cancer and other factors. A gynecologic oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating vaginal cancer using surgery.
Surgery may be the only treatment needed for a very small vaginal cancer.
Surgical options for vaginal cancer include:
Vaginectomy. This is the removal of part or all of the vagina, which may include the pelvic lymph nodes. In some women, the operation is called a radical or modified radical vaginectomy because tissues next to the vagina also need to be surgically removed. A gynecologic or reconstructive surgeon can repair the vagina or create a new vagina with grafts of tissue from other parts of the woman’s body. Sexual intercourse may still be possible after this type of surgery, but a lubrication aid may be needed.
Hysterectomy. In many cases when surgery is performed, the uterus and the other internal reproductive organs must be removed to help with the complete removal of vaginal cancer. In addition to the uterus, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and lymph nodes may be removed. In some women, the operation is called a radical or modified hysterectomy and may be performed in conjunction with a radical or modified vaginectomy.
After surgery for vaginal cancer, we will help you through enhanced recovery after surgery.
In some cases, your care team may decide to combine surgery with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This will depend on many factors, including the location of your cancer, how aggressive it is, and whether it has spread to another part of the body.