Sometimes a rare type of cancer occurs in the vagina, which is vaginal cancer. The vagina, a muscular tube, forms the connection between the uterus with the outer genitals. The lining of the surface of the vagina is the area where this cancer develops in the cells. This area is the birth canal. Primary vaginal cancer, which begins in the vagina, is rare as different cancers often spread from other body parts to the vagina. There is the best chance of a cure on early diagnosis of vaginal cancer. It becomes very difficult to treat if this cancer spreads beyond the vagina.
There are rarely any signs and symptoms of early-stage vaginal cancer. The following signs and symptoms appear as cancer progresses:
- Watery discharge from the vagina
- Presence of a lump or mass in the vagina
- Unusual bleeding from the vagina
- Pain in the pelvis
- Frequent urination
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain while urinating
A woman should immediately consult a cancer specialist in Kolkata if she has these symptoms.
There are different types of vaginal cancer. These include:
- Vaginal squamous cell carcinoma: This is the most common type and begins in the squamous cells that line the surface of the vagina.
- Vaginal adenocarcinoma: The surface area of the vagina that have the glandular cells is the originating place of this type.
- Vaginal melanoma: The origin of this type is in the melanocytes, which are the pigment-producing cells, of the vagina.
- Vaginal sarcoma: There are connective tissue cells or muscle cells in the vaginal walls and this type develops in these cells.
Vaginal cancer screening
Before there are any signs and symptoms, the best gynae oncologist in Kolkata sometimes can detect vaginal cancer during a routine pelvic exam. After inspecting the outer genitals, the doctor inserts two fingers into the vagina and at the same time presses the other hand on the abdomen. This helps him/her to feel the uterus and ovaries. A device called a speculum is sometimes inserted into the vagina by the doctor. The vaginal canal remains open and the doctor can detect abnormalities in the vagina and cervix. He/she often takes the help of a colposcope, a type of lighted magnifying tool, to see the area properly. This is known as colposcopy. During a biopsy, the doctor may also take a tissue sample and send it for examination under a microscope.
There are different stages of vaginal cancer. These are Stage I, Stage II, Stage III, Stage IVa and Stage IVb.
The treatment options include:
- Surgery: The most common treatment is surgery. An MCH cancer surgeon in West Bengal has experience in this surgery. The surgeon cuts out tissue or growths with the help of a laser. Removing the whole or part of the vagina may be necessary in some cases. If there is a need for removing cervix or other organs, the surgeon recommends hysterectomy.
- Radiation therapy: High-powered X-rays or other forms of radiation helps to kill cancer in this procedure. The doctor uses a machine for this or inserts a radioactive substance inside the body.
- Chemotherapy: The use of medicines in chemotherapy kills cancer cells or stops their growth. The doctor either gives the medicines through the mouth or injects it in the body through a vein (intravenous or IV).