The vagina is a hollow tube that connects the cervix (lower part of the uterus) with the outside body. The vagina allows for intercourse and childbirth. Vaginal cancer begins in the cells that line the vagina. Cancer of the vagina as a primary site is extremely rare.
Vaginal cancer is treated by a team of experts at the cancer centre who often use different types of treatment depending on the stage and location of the disease. These include mainly chemotherapy and radiation; surgery is rarely used.
Your family doctor or gynecologist will make a referral for you if a vaginal cancer is suspected. The cancer centre will then set up an appointment for you. You may see a Gynecologic Oncologist (a specialist in gynecological surgery and chemotherapy), a Medical Oncologist (a specialist in chemotherapy) or a Radiation Oncologist (a specialist in radiation therapy).
Sometimes, based on the information that they have, you may need to see more than one specialist. The oncologist(s) you see will review your case and will go over the best treatment plan for your situation. This appointment may be overwhelming, so it is best to bring someone with you for support.
Surgery is not usually used as primary treatment for vaginal cancer. It is typically used for women who have precancerous changes to the vagina (VAIN—vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia). This precancerous change is localized in the skin tissue that lines the vagina and has not spread into deeper tissues or surrounding tissues. These abnormal cells are removed by:
Other Treatment Options
Vaginal cancer is usually treated with radiation, which may also include:
Canadian Cancer Society
Call or go online to look for:
• Vaginal Cancer: Understanding your diagnosis
• Eating well when you have cancer
• Chemotherapy and other drug therapies: A guide for people with cancer
• Radiation Therapy: A guide for people with cancer
• When someone you know has cancer: How you can help