Vaginal Cancer
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Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal Cancer

Dr. Navneet Sharda provides this information as an educational source. It is not intended as a substitute for a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.

Vaginal cancer is a rare gynecological cancer where malignant (cancerous) tissue develops within the vagina.

Usually, it tends to be a secondary cancer. This means that cancerous cells migrate and invade the vagina from other organs, such as the cervix or vulva. However, diagnosed in early stages, it can be treated effectively.

Normally, the vaginal cells grow and divide to form new cells, and when they get old, they die, allowing new cells to take their place. When this process is impaired, the cells start to divide and grow abnormally, the old cells do not die when they should, and the result is an abnormal tissue mass or tumor.

There are two types of tumors:

benign (term that refers to a non-cancerous mass or growth which is not life threatening, because it does not spread damaging adjacent tissues, structures, and organs) and

malignant (term that refers to a cancerous mass or growth which can invade and destroy adjacent tissues and organs inside the body causing death).

However, diagnosed in early stages, it can be treated effectively.

 

Signs & Symptoms

Unfortunately, vaginal cancer in its early stages is asymptomatic. Symptoms occur when the cancer is already advanced. Some of the most common signs of vaginal cancer include:

•Unusual bleeding or abnormal vaginal discharge not related to the period.

•Difficulties or pain during urination.

•Pain during sexual intercourse.

•Constipation.

•Pain within the pelvic area.

•Pain in the back or legs.

•Edema (swelling in the legs).

•The presence of a lump inside the vagina.

 

VAGINAL CANCER DIAGNOSIS

The first step is review of the patient’s past health problems and general health state, symptoms.

Physical Examination: During physical examination, the doctor will conduct a pelvic and rectal examination and also perform a Pap smear.

 

Imaging Tests

Colonoscopy: In this procedure the vagina and cervix are closely examined with an electric microscope magnifying lense instrument. The doctor might remove a tissue sample for microscopic examination.

Proctosigmoidoscopy: This is a medical procedure highly recommended for patients with a large tumor or with the tumor located close to the rectum or colon. This procedure uses a thin instrument having a tube-like shape with a camera device attached at one end which allows the doctor to see parts of the body.

 

Computed Tomography (CT scan): This imaging test is similar with an x-ray test. A CT scan is usually performed in two steps

1). First, the targeted area is scanned without a contrast agent.

2). Second, the targeted area is scanned after a contrast agent was administrated this technique provide information regarding the size and the exact location of the tumor, and can show if the cancer has spread to other organs or areas in the body.

 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI is an advanced, painless, noninvasive technique that uses radio waves and strong magnets to reveal a complete image of a targeted area of the body.

Cystoscopy: This is a medical procedure where the doctor examines the bladder and urethra for abnormal tissue with the help of a cytoscope (a thin tube with a camera attached at the one end). This procedure is highly recommended when the tumor is large or is located in the front walls of the vagina near the bladder.

Ureteroscopy: This is a medical procedure used to examine whether or not the cancer has spread to the ureters.

Lymph angiogram: This is a procedure similar with the x-ray, but it focuses on the lymph system.

 

Biopsy: In some cases, your doctor will recommend a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis of cancer. The biopsy is the most conclusive test, because it clearly establishes where the abnormal tissue is cancer or not. There are two types of biopsies performed in vaginal cancer patients:

1. Excisional biopsy: This is a type of biopsy where the entire lesion/tumor is removed. The excisional biopsy can be performed with local or general anesthesia, depending on the tumor size and location.

2. Punch biopsy: During this type of biopsy only a small amount of abnormal tissue/tumor is removed with an instrument that looks like a tiny apple corer. This biopsy is usually performed under local anesthesia.

 

VAGINAL CANCER TREATMENT

The treatment plan varies from patient to patient, and depends on patient’s age, general health, the location and size of tumor and the need to maintain the function of the vagina.

Surgery: Surgery is one of the most common treatments for patients with vaginal cancer, and is mainly used as a primary treatment. There are five type of surgeries performed to treat vaginal cancer:

Laser surgery: This is a type of surgery that uses a laser beam (a narrow beam of intense light) to remove the tumor.

Wide local excision: This is a surgical procedure where the cancer is removed together with the tissue around it.

Vaginectomy: This is a surgical procedure where parts of the entire vagina are removed.

Radical (total) hysterectomy: This is a surgical procedure where the entire vagina is removed together with the surrounding organs or structures (such as the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or cervix). There are two type of radical hysterectomy:

  • Abdominal hysterectomy: During this procedure the vagina and adjacent organs are removed through a large incision in the abdomen.
  • Laparoscopic hysterectomy: During this procedure the vagina and adjacent organs are removed through small incision with the help of a special instrument called a laparoscope.

 

Pelvic exenteration: This is a surgical procedure where the vagina is removed together with the rectum, colon, bladder, and/or part of the bowel (if the cancer invaded this organs or structures).

 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy or radiotherapy uses high-energy rays or particles (that focuses on a specific area) to destroy cancerous cells. There are two types of radiation therapy vaginal cancer patients receive:

External beam radiation therapy: This is the most common procedure to deliver the radiation beam through a device called a linear accelerator.

Internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy: This is a type of treatment where the beam is received from inside the body close to the tumor location (inside the vagina).

 

Chemotherapy Chemotherapy is a type of treatment (affects cells throughout the entire body) that uses drugs either to stop the abnormal growth and dividing process of the cancerous cells, or to kill them.

 

Cancer Care Centers is located in Las Vegas under the supervision of Cancer Specialist Dr. Nav(Navneet) Sharda. Cancer Care Centers specialize in treatment of various types of cancers like multiforme, meningioma, tonsil, tongue, laryngeal, parotid, neck, lung, breast, lymphoma, non hodgkinslymphoma, hodgkinsdisease, hodgkinslymphoma, skin cancer, melanoma, esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, colon, renal, kidney, ovarian, sarcoma, uterine cancer, cervical cancer, vaginal, brain, breast, vulvar cancer, bone metastasis, bone, osteosarcoma, endometrialcancercarcinoma, tumor, malignant and cancerous Cancers. We offer threapylike chemotherapy, radiotherapy, radiation therapy, radiation oncology, oncology, oncologist, immunotherapy, brachy therapy, stereotacticradio surgery, IMRT, intensity modulated radiation therapy, conformal therapy, anaplasticastrocytoma, gioblastoma.

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