Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Vaginal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information About Vaginal Cancer

    Incidence and Mortality

    Estimated new cases and deaths from vaginal (and other female genital) cancer in the United States in 2014:[1]

    Recommended Related to Cancer

    What is Prevention?

    Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. In 2014, about 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States. In addition to the physical problems and emotional distress caused by cancer, the high costs of care are also a burden to patients, their families, and to the public. By preventing cancer, the number of new cases of cancer is lowered. Hopefully, this will reduce the burden of cancer and lower the number of deaths caused by cancer. Cancer...

    Read the What is Prevention? article > >

    • New cases: 3,170.
    • Deaths: 880.

    Carcinomas of the vagina are uncommon tumors comprising about 1% of the cancers that arise in the female genital system.[1,2]

    Early stage tumors are often curable with local modality therapies, but there is no standard treatment of proven efficacy for metastatic disease. A large proportion (30%-50%) of women with vaginal carcinomas have had a prior hysterectomy for benign, pre-malignant, or malignant disease.[2,3]

    The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging system indicates that tumors in the vagina that involve the cervix of women with an intact uterus are classified as cervical cancers.[4] Therefore, tumors that may have actually originated in the apical vagina but extend to the cervix would be classified as cervical cancers.

    Squamous cell cancer (SCC) accounts for approximately 85% of vaginal cancer cases.[5] SCC initially spreads superficially within the vaginal wall and later invades the paravaginal tissues and the parametria. Distant hematogenous metastases occur most commonly in the lungs, and less frequently in liver, bone, or other sites.[5] SCC of the vagina is associated with a high rate of infection with oncogenic strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) and has many risk factors in common with SCC of the cervix.[6,7,8] HPV infection has also been described in a case of vaginal adenocarcinoma.[8]

    Risk Factors

    Approximately 5% to 10% of cases of vaginal cancers are adenocarcinomas. A rare form of adenocarcinoma (clear cell carcinoma, described below) occurs in association with in utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), with a peak incidence at young ages (less than 30 years). However, adenocarcinomas that are not associated with DES exposure occur primarily during postmenopausal years.

    The association between the clear cell carcinomas and in utero exposure to DES was first reported in 1971.[9] The incidence of this disease, which is highest for those exposed during the first trimester, peaked in the mid-1970s, reflecting the use of DES in the 1950s. It is extremely rare now.[5] However, women with a known history of in utero DES exposure should be carefully followed for this tumor.

    1 | 2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    man holding lung xray
    What you need to know.
    stem cells
    How they work for blood cancers.
     
    woman wearing pink ribbon
    Separate fact from fiction.
    Colorectal cancer cells
    Symptoms, screening tests, and more.
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article