Vaginal Cancer: Symptoms, Treatment, Staging and Causes

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Vaginal cancer

The vagina, also known as the birth canal, is a hollow channel that goes from opening of uterus to outside of body. A diagnosis for early cancer can be cured, while if it spread beyond vagina is more difficult to treat.




Vaginal Cancer is very uncommon type of cancer. It is a disease in which malignant cells form in the vagina. It can be cured, when found in early stages.(1)

TYPES OF VAGINAL CANCER

Squamous cell carcinoma: It begins in thin, flat cells, that line surface of vagina. If spreads slowly and moves into other organs like
liver, lungs or bones.(2)
Adenocarcinoma: This starts in glandular cells in the lining of vagina. The cells make mucus and other fluids.(3)
Melanoma: This starts in cells that give skin color.(4)
Sarcoma: it starts in vaginal walls.(5)

SIGN AND SYMPTOMS

• Bleeding or discharge not related to menstrual periods.
• Pain during sexual intercourse.
• Pain the pelvic area.
• A lump in vagina.
• Pain when urinating.
• Constipation.
• Back pain.
• Swelling in the legs.

If one have any of these symptoms, discuss them with a doctor right away. The sooner you start treatment, the better treatment will work.




CAUSES

• Human papilloma virus(HPV): This sexually transmitted infection is most common.
• Previous cervical cancer
• Previous radiation treatment
• Age: Female over 60 year of age have highest risk.

STAGING

Stage 1: The cancer has not spread from the vaginal wall.
Stage 2: Cancerous cells are identifiable in tissue surrounding the vagina but not pelvis.
Stage 3: The cancer has reached the wall of pelvis.
Stage 4: This stage have two sub stages

• Stage 4A, the cancer has spread from vagina to linings of bladder, cervix and pelvis.
• Stage 4B, the cancer has reached a distant organ, such a lung or bone.

TREATMENT

If the cancer is stage 1 and in upper third of vagina, it can be removed through surgery of Radiotherapy. Depending on the size, location and margins of your tumour, doctor might remove:

• Only tumour and a small area of healthy tissue.
• Part or all of the vagina
• Most of reproductive or pelvic organ.

Stage 4B cancer is generally not curable, but treatment can relieve symptoms.




PREVENTION

• Take steps to lower your risk of HPV.
• Quit smoke, if you can do it.
• Drink only in moderation
• Get regular pelvic exams and pap smears

References:

1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK9963/
2.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441939/
3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519578/
4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470409/
5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5791230/

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