What are the symptoms of vaginal cancer?

Symptoms do not always occur with early vaginal cancers. As the tumors grow, they may produce a discharge or start to bleed. A lump may be present in the vagina, and there may be pain or fullness in the pelvis or lower abdomen. You may experience pain during intercourse. As the cancer continues to advance, it may interfere with your bowel or bladder function.

Although Pap smears do not screen for vaginal cancer, it may be noticed during the routine pelvic exam that accompanies Pap testing.

Common symptoms of vaginal cancer

Vaginal cancer can cause a variety of symptoms, and any of them can be severe at times. These symptoms include:

  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Blood-streaked stools
  • Bloody or pink-colored urine (hematuria)
  • Difficult or painful urination or bladder pain
  • Frequent urination or bowel movements
  • Lump in the vagina
  • Pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain or fullness
  • Rectal pain or fullness
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal itching or discomfort

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, vaginal cancer can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Inability to have bowel movements or pass gas
  • Not producing any urine
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Severe abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Uncontrolled or heavy bleeding, hemorrhage
INTRODUCTION

What is vaginal cancer?

The vagina, referred to as the birth canal during labor and delivery, is the tubular structure leading from the cervix to the outside of the body. The most common types of vaginal cancer are squamous cell carcinomas, which start in the flat cells that line the vagina, and adenocarcinomas, which originate in the vagina’s glandular cells. Cancer of the vagina is very rare; it is diagno... Read more about vaginal cancerintroduction

CAUSES

What causes vaginal cancer?

The cause of vaginal cancer is not known. Squamous cell carcinomas occur most commonly in women age 60 or older, while the average age at diagnosis of adenocarcinomas is 19. You may have a higher risk of vaginal cancer if you have had cervical cancer or if you have a human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol, a drug that was used in the 1950s to prevent miscarriage, also seems to increase the risk of vaginal cancer.... Read more about vaginal cancercauses

TREATMENTS

How is vaginal cancer treated?

The goal of vaginal cancer treatment is to permanently cure the cancer or to bring about a complete remission of the disease. Remission means that there is no longer any sign of the disease in your body, although it may recur later.... Read more about vaginal cancertreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.