How common is vaginal cancer?
Vaginal cancer is rarer compared to cervical and vulvar cancer.
Is HPV the cause of vaginal cancer?
A percentage of vaginal cancers is caused by oncogenic types of HPV (60%). These cancers that are caused by HPV are usually preceded by premalignant lesions (HSIL/VaIN 2, 3).
Which women are at a higher risk for vaginal cancer?
At risk for precancerous lesions and HPV-related vaginal cancers are:
- Women with a history of cervical precancerous lesions or cervical cancer.
- Women who have had their uterus removed due to cervical precancerous lesions or cervical cancer.
- Women with precancerous lesions or HPV-related cancer in the vulva and anus.
The risk for carcinogenesis in the vagina from HPV increases in smokers and women under immunosuppression.
What about vaginal cancer prevention measures?
Prevention includes vaccination and check-ups. There are no special prevention programs for vaginal cancer (like there are for cervical cancer) because it is a rare cancer in the general population.
However, it is recommended that women with a history of precancerous lesions or cancer in the lower genital tract are also preventively examined in the vagina, even if their uterus has been removed.
What is the treatment of vaginal cancer?
Treatment consists of the surgical removal of the vagina (colpectomy), partial or total, in combination with radiation therapy.