Vaginal cancer is rare in the U.S. — fewer than 5,000 cases are diagnosed each year. It develops gradually, starting first as precancerous changes and then turning into cancer. About seven out of 10 vaginal cancers start in the lining of the vagina.
Our experienced Dignity Health oncologists and gynecologists can provide quality care for vaginal cancer in the Bay Area. For personalized treatment, Find a Doctor online.
Vaginal Cancer Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of vaginal cancer don’t start until later in the disease. More advanced stages can cause:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding — any bleeding not related to your menstrual periods
- Mass or lump in your vagina
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pelvic or back pain
- Swelling in your legs
- Painful urination
Other medical conditions can cause similar symptoms, so talk with your doctor to receive the right diagnosis. Dignity Health doctors are committed to personalized care with humankindness.
Vaginal Cancer Causes & Risk Factors
The main cause of vaginal cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV). While up to 90 percent of cases (both cancerous and precancerous) are HPV-related, only a small portion of all women with the HPV infection get vaginal cancer.
Risk factors associated with vaginal cancer are:
- Age 50 and older
- HIV infection
- Personal history of cervical or uterine cancer
- Health problems with your uterus requiring hysterectomy
- Exposure to diethylstilbestrol — a synthetic form of estrogen given to pregnant women between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage, premature labor, and other pregnancy complications
For more information about risk factors, visit a Dignity Health cancer center in the Bay Area:
Vaginal Cancer Treatment & Prevention at Dignity Health
Prevention focuses on lowering your risk factors:
If diagnosed, treatment for vaginal cancer depends on the stage. Surgery and radiation therapy are the main treatments, along with chemotherapy for more advanced stages.
Your doctor will explain your options and provide personalized treatment every step of the way.
Dignity Health hospitals in the Bay Area treat all types of gynecological cancer, including vaginal cancer, in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.