Vaginal cancer is cancer that affects the vagina.
Some types of cancer, such as cervical cancer, can spread to the vagina. This page is about cancer that begins in the vagina.
Symptoms of vaginal cancer include:
Vaginal cancer is rare, especially in women under 40.
If you have these symptoms, it's much more likely you have something less serious, such as an infection.
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See a GP if you think you might have symptoms of vaginal cancer.
It's unlikely you have it, but it's best to get checked so that any serious problems can be ruled out. You won't be wasting your doctor's time.
If it is cancer, getting diagnosed early can mean treatment is more likely to be effective.
Your GP will ask about your symptoms and may ask to examine your vagina (a pelvic examination).
If they're not sure what the cause is, they may refer you to a specialist for further tests, such as:
The specialist can tell you if you have cancer or something else. If it is cancer, they'll talk to you about what happens next.
You'll see a team of specialists who will recommend the best treatment for you. This will depend on things like how far the cancer has spread.
The main treatments for vaginal cancer are:
Ask your care team about what the different treatments involve and why they think a particular treatment is best for you.
Vaginal cancer can sometimes be cured if it's caught early on. If a cure isn't possible, treatment might help relieve the symptoms for several years.
Speak to your care team if you would like to know what the outlook is for you, as it varies from person to person.
You can also find general survival statistics for vaginal cancer on the Cancer Research UK website.
Like cervical cancer, vaginal cancer is usually caused by infection with some types of the human papilloma virus (HPV).
The HPV vaccination, now routinely offered to 11- to 13-year-old girls, helps prevent infection with the main types of HPV linked to cervical and vaginal cancer.
This can significantly reduce the risk of getting these cancers later in life.
For more advice, information and support, see: