Vaginal Cancer (cont.)
What is the prognosis for vaginal cancer?
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) depends on the following:
- The stage of the cancer (whether it is in the vagina only or has spread to
- The size of the tumor.
- The grade of tumor cells (how different
they are from normal cells).
- Where the cancer is within the vagina.
there are symptoms.
- The patient's age and general health.
- Whether the cancer
has just been diagnosed or has recurred (come back).
Treatment options depend on the following:
- The stage, size, and location of the cancer.
- Whether the tumor cells are
squamous cell or adenocarcinoma.
- Whether the patient has a uterus or has had a
- Whether the patient has had past radiation treatment to the
How is staging determined for vaginal cancer?
After vaginal cancer has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer
cells have spread within the vagina or to other parts of the body.
The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the vagina or to
other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the
staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the
stage in order to plan treatment. The following procedures may be used in the
- Biopsy: A biopsy may be done to find out if cancer has spread to the
cervix. A sample of tissue is cut from the cervix and viewed under a microscope.
A biopsy that removes only a small amount of tissue is usually done in the
doctor's office. A woman may need to go to a hospital for a cone biopsy (removal
of a larger, cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix and cervical canal). A
biopsy of the vulva may also be done to see if cancer has spread there.
x-ray: An x-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of
energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of
areas inside the body.
- Cystoscopy: A procedure to look inside the bladder and
urethra to check for abnormal areas. A cystoscope is inserted through the
urethra into the bladder. A cystoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a
light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue samples,
which are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer.
- Ureteroscopy: A
procedure to look inside the ureters to check for abnormal areas. A ureteroscope
is inserted through the bladder and into the ureters. A ureteroscope is a thin,
tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a
tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease. A
ureteroscopy and cystoscopy may be done during the same procedure.
- Proctoscopy: A procedure to look inside the rectum to check for abnormal areas.
A proctoscope is inserted through the rectum. A proctoscope is a thin, tube-like
instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to
remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.
- CT scan
(CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside
the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer
linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to
help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called
computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves,
and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body.
This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
- Lymphangiogram: A procedure used to x-ray the lymph system. A dye is injected
into the lymph vessels in the feet. The dye travels upward through the lymph
nodes and lymph vessels and x-rays are taken to see if there are any blockages.
This test helps find out whether cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
The following stages are used for vaginal cancer:
Stage 0 (carcinoma in situ)
In stage 0, squamous cell cancer is found in tissue lining the inside of the
vagina. Stage 0 cancer is also called carcinoma in situ.
In stage I, cancer is found only in the vagina.
In stage II, cancer has spread from the vagina to the tissue around the
In stage III, cancer has spread from the vagina to the lymph nodes in the
pelvis or groin, or to the pelvis, or both.
Stage IV is divided into stage IVA and stage IVB:
- Stage IVA: Cancer may have spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis or groin and
has spread to one or both of the following areas:
- The lining of the bladder or
- Beyond the pelvis.
- Stage IVB: Cancer has spread to parts of the body
that are not near the vagina, such as the lungs. Cancer may also have spread to
the lymph nodes.
Recurrent vaginal cancer
Recurrent vaginal cancer is cancer that has recurred (come back) after it has
been treated. The cancer may come back in the vagina or in other parts of the
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Vaginal Cancer - Treatment
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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
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Vaginal Cancer - Diagnosis
Question: Please discuss the tests and procedures you received that led to a diagnosis of vaginal cancer.