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  1. Basics
  2. Symptoms
  3. Diagnosis
  4. Treatment
  5. Prevention
  6. Knowledge Center

Our Approach

When you come to MD Anderson's Gynecologic Oncology Center for vaginal cancer care, a team of experts focuses on you. These nationally known physicians customize your therapy to include the most-advanced vaginal cancer treatments with the least impact on your body.

Your care team works together closely, communicating and collaborating often to be sure you receive the most comprehensive and efficient care. The group may include surgical, medical, radiation and gynecological oncologists; surgeons and reconstructive surgeons; diagnostic radiologists and pathologists. A specially trained support staff joins them in delivering your care for vaginal cancer.

MD Anderson treats more women each year with this complex type of cancer than most oncologists in the nation. This gives us a level of experience and expertise that is rare and translates to more successful outcomes for many women with vaginal cancer.

Surgical Skill

Surgery often is one of the methods used to treat vaginal cancer. Our skilled surgeons – who include some of the top reconstructive surgeons in the country – are known for innovative techniques and excellent outcomes.

We consider your quality of life one of our top priorities. That's why we offer the most advanced surgical methods for vaginal cancer, including procedures that allow some women to keep the ability to have children.

Pioneering Research

We're constantly researching newer, safe, more-advanced vaginal cancer treatments. This translates to a number of clinical trials of new treatments for vaginal cancer.

And at MD Anderson you're surrounded by the strength of one of the nation's largest and most experienced comprehensive cancer centers, which has all the support and wellness services needed to treat the whole person – not just the disease.

Symptoms of vaginal cancer vary from woman to woman. They may include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, especially after sex
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • A mass or bump in the vagina
  • Pain during sex
  • Constipation
  • Pain when you urinate
  • Pain in the pelvic area that does not go away

If you have these symptoms, it probably does not mean you have cancer. They usually are caused by conditions, such as infections, that are not cancer. However, if you notice any of these signs, you should see a doctor.

The experts at MD Anderson use the most-advanced technology and techniques to pinpoint vaginal cancer. They specialize in diagnosing vaginal cancer, and they have a high degree of expertise and skill.

Vaginal Cancer Diagnostic Tests

If you have symptoms that may signal vaginal cancer, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions about your health; your lifestyle, including smoking and drinking habits; and your family history.

One or more of the following tests may be used to find out if you have vaginal cancer and if it has spread. These tests also may be used to find out if treatment is working.

Biopsy

The only way to tell for sure if you have vaginal cancer is a biopsy. A small piece of tissue is removed, and then it is looked at under a microscope. Your doctor may use a colposcope to magnify the area and make it easier to remove the tissue. The doctor then looks at the area using colposcope, which is like binoculars with magnifying lenses, or a magnifying glass. A small piece of the suspicious area will be removed.

Imaging tests, which may include:

  • CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scans
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans
  • PET (positron emission tomography) scans
  • Chest X-ray

Endoscopic tests, which may include:

Proctosigmoidoscopy: An endoscope is inserted into the rectum to look at the rectum and colon. Biopsies can be done during the procedure.

Cystoscopy: An endoscope is inserted into the bladder through the urethra. Biopsies can be done during the procedure.

Our Treatment Approach

At MD Anderson, a team of renowned physicians customizes your care to be sure you receive the most-advanced treatments for vaginal cancer. And, because we go beyond treating the disease, we always keep your quality of life in mind. For this reason, we focus on therapies that have the least impact on your body, yet target the cancer with leading-edge methods.

MD Anderson treats more women each year with vaginal cancer than most oncologists in the nation. This gives us a level of expertise that is rare and translates to better outcomes in many cases of vaginal cancer.

Like all surgeries, vaginal cancer surgery is most successful when performed by a specialist with as much experience as possible in the particular procedure. MD Anderson surgeons are among the most skilled and recognized in the world. They perform a number of surgeries for vaginal cancer each year, using the newest, most-advanced techniques. Special areas of focus include:  

  • Surgical methods that allow some women to keep the ability to have children
  • Reconstructive surgery after treatment

And we’re constantly researching newer, safe, more-advanced vaginal cancer treatments. This translates to a number of clinical trials for vaginal cancer.

Vaginal Cancer Screening

Cancer screening exams are important medical tests done when you’re at risk but don’t have symptoms. They help find cancer at its earliest stage, when the chances for successful treatment are highest.

Screening may be able to find certain types of vaginal cancer in women without symptoms. You should have a pelvic exam every year. Pap tests are not necessary after age 65 or a hysterectomy that was done for reasons other than treatment of cervical dysplasia (precancer) or cancer.

In addition, MD Anderson recommends testing for HPV (human papilloma virus) for some women over 30 years old. This can be done at the same time as your Pap tests. 

Vaginal Cancer Risk Factors

Anything that increases your chance of getting vaginal cancer is a risk factor. These include:

  • DES (diethylstilbestrol): This drug was given between 1940 and 1971 to some pregnant women to help them not have a miscarriage (lose the baby).
  • Vaginal adenosis: In some women, especially those whose mothers took DES, the cells in the vagina change from squamous cells to endometrium (or glandular) cells.
  • HPV (human papilloma virus)
  • Cervical cancer or pre-cancer
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol in excess
  • HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus)

Not everyone with risk factors gets vaginal cancer. However, if you have risk factors, you should discuss them with your doctor.

Contact Us

TATA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
Dr. E Borges Road, Parel, Mumbai - 400 012 India
Phone: +91-22- 24177000, 24146750 - 55
Fax: +91-22-24146937
E-mail : msoffice@tmc.gov.in (for patient care and queries) / hrd@tmc.gov.in(for administrative - HRD matters)

629481 (122)