Vaginal Cancer (cont.)

What are causes and risk factors for vaginal cancer?

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Age and exposure to the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol) before birth affect a woman's risk of developing vaginal cancer.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Risk factors for vaginal cancer include the following:

  • Being aged 60 or older.
  • Being exposed to DES while in the mother's womb. In the 1950s, the drug DES was given to some pregnant women to prevent miscarriage (premature birth of a fetus that cannot survive). Women who were exposed to DES before birth have an increased risk of developing vaginal cancer. Some of these women develop a rare form of cancer called clear cell adenocarcinoma.
  • Having human papilloma virus (HPV) infection.
  • Having a history of abnormal cells in the cervix or cervical cancer.

What are symptoms and signs of vaginal cancer?

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Possible signs of vaginal cancer include pain or abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Vaginal cancer often does not cause early symptoms and may be found during a routine Pap test. When symptoms occur they may be caused by vaginal cancer or by other conditions. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

  • Bleeding or discharge not related to menstrual periods.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Pain in the pelvic area.
  • A lump in the vagina.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/18/2014

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Vaginal Cancer - Risks and Causes Question: If known, what was the cause or your vaginal cancer? Did you have a known risk factor?
Vaginal Cancer - Signs and Symptoms Question: What were your signs and symptoms associated with vaginal cancer?
Vaginal Cancer - Diagnosis Question: Please discuss the tests and procedures you received that led to a diagnosis of vaginal cancer.
Vaginal Cancer - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment, surgery, or medication did you receive for vaginal cancer?