What is vaginal cancer?
There are two main types of cancer that start in the vagina:
- squamous cell carcinoma – the most common type of cancer, affecting cells covering the surface of the vagina
- adenocarcinoma – a type of cancer that begins in the glandular cells lining the vagina.
It is more common to have secondary cancers in the vagina. This means the cancer has spread from another part of the body.
Vaginal cancer symptoms
There are often no obvious symptoms of vaginal cancer. The cancer may be found through a routine Pap smear.
You may have one or more of the following symptoms:
- bloody or smelly vaginal discharge not related to your menstrual period
- pain during sexual intercourse
- bleeding after sexual intercourse
- pain in the pelvic area
- a lump in the vagina.
Vaginal cancer statistics
- Cancer of the vagina is one of the rarest types of gynaecological cancer.
- Each year in Australia, approximately 70 women are diagnosed.
- Squamous cell carcinoma usually affects women aged 50-70.
- Adenocarcinoma commonly affects young women less than 25 years old, but it can also occur in other age groups.
The aim of this information is to help you understand about vaginal cancer. We cannot advise you about the best treatment for you. You need to discuss this with your doctors. However, we hope this information will answer some of your questions and help you think about the questions you would like to ask your doctors or other health carers.