Vaginal cancer is an extremely rare cancer and its exact causes are still not known. The genetic mutation of the healthy cells causes the normal cells to grow abnormally. They start multiplying uncontrollably. These cells do not die and start accumulating to form a tumor and may metastasize. If this cancer occurs because the endometrial or cervical cancer has spread, it is known as secondary vaginal cancer.
The vaginal squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type that is found lining the surface of the vagina. When the glandular cells on the vaginal surface are affected, it is called vaginal adenocarcinoma. If it develops in the smooth muscles or connective tissue cells, it is vaginal sarcoma. If it is found in melanocytes, it is called vaginal melanoma. Mostly the women above the age of fifty seem to be getting affected by this dangerous cancer. The other risk factors include sex at an extremely young age, multiple sex partners, HIV infection, smoking, etc.
The most common symptoms include unusual vaginal bleeding occurring normally after intercourse or menopause, pelvic pain, mass or lump in the vagina, watery vaginal discharge, pain while urinating, constipation, etc. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is essential that you visit your doctor immediately and get examined. The women who are diagnosed in earlier stages can be cured easily. Timely detection will definitely increase the survival rate. The cancer can be diagnosed by doing an internal pelvic exam as well as a Pap smear. X-ray, CT scan, MRI, biopsy, etc. may be required to determine the type and stage of the vaginal cancer.
The most common treatment include chemotherapy and radiation therapy, however, doctors are still working to gain knowledge about this cancer, what are its causes, and how to treat it. Research and trials are going on to find out ways to provide symptomatic relief as well as reduce the side effects of the vaginal cancer treatment. Surgery may be done in stage I adenocarcinomas and is dependent on the size and stage of the cancer. This may include laser surgery, loop electroexcision, radical vaginectomy, lymphadenectomy, pelvic exenteration or vaginectomy alongwith radical hysterectomy.
This cancer can definitely be prevented by lowering the risks involved. For example, avoid sex at a young age, avoid having multiple sex partners, make use of condoms to prevent human papilloma virus infection, etc. It is vital that you get regular Pap tests done, so that the cancer is diagnosed in earlier stages, thus ensuring better treatment and increasing your life span as well. Inform your doctor if your grandmother or mother was taking diethylstilbestrol. Also, make it a point to minimize the use of tobacco and smoking.
Now that you are fully aware about some of the basic facts about vaginal cancer, make sure you take every step to prevent its occurrence. Do regular health check ups to avoid the development of this rare vaginal cancer. If you need any more information, you can visit cancer8.com for further details.