Vaginal cancer is a very rare disease. More commonly, cancer
will begin in another part of the body and spread to the vagina.
Vaginal cancer is mostly found in women in their 60s,
although is rare even in this group.
The symptoms of vaginal cancer include abnormal bleeding,
particularly after sex, increased or unusual discharge from the
vagina and discomfort or pain in the pelvic area.
Diagnosis and treatment
A test called a colposcopy is used to detect vaginal cancer.
This test is performed using a colposcope, a small medical
instrument with a light and a magnifier on one end. A doctor will
hold the vagina open and use the colposcope to look inside the
vagina and cervix for signs of cancer.
If there is evidence of cancer, the doctor may also use the
colposcope to take a small sample of tissue, which is then tested
in a laboratory.
The most common treatment for vaginal cancer is surgery.
Depending on how far advanced the cancer is, part or the entire
vagina will be removed during surgery. Radiotherapy and
chemotherapy may also be used to kill the cancerous cells.
As with most types of cancer, early detection and treatment
offers the best chances of recovery which is why regular cervical
smear tests are so important.