Cancer – or the Big C – is a dreaded diagnosis among women because of the implications it brings from chemotherapy to death. One such cancer is vaginal cancer, a rare cancer occurring in the vagina (i.e., the muscular tube connecting the outer genitals to the uterus) most commonly in the cells lining its surface.
Before getting into panic mode about your vaginal cancer diagnosis, here are a few of the most important pieces of information that you must know to conquer it. You must also discuss your medical condition with an oncologist so that you will have the best prognosis.
Keep in mind that not only is primary vaginal cancer (i.e., cancer originating from the vagina itself instead of spreading from other parts of the body) rare but it is more common in women 60 years old and above. Younger women, however, can develop vaginal cancer when they have:
- Human papillomavirus infection
- Mothers who took diethylstilbestrol (DES) during their pregnancies (DES was used in the 1950s as a preventive medication against miscarriages)
- Abnormal cells in their reproductive organs particularly in their vagina, uterus or cervix.
If you think that you have any of these risks, you must set a schedule with your doctor for Pap smear tests. The earlier your doctor can detect abnormal cells in your vagina and its surrounding areas, the better your prognosis against vaginal cancer will be.
Like most types of cancers, the early stages of vaginal cancer often do not have signs and symptoms. But when you observe these symptoms, then you must seek medical opinion to determine your medical condition:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding, which is not part of your normal menstruation such as after intercourse or after menopause
- Watery vaginal discharge
- Mass or lump in your vagina
- Painful urination
- Pelvic pain
These signs and symptoms are also associated with other medical conditions. But when you suspect vaginal cancer, it is always best to err on the side of caution and seek professional help on the matter. The importance of routine pelvic examinations cannot then be overemphasized as it is during these tests that vaginal cancer can be detected.
Fortunately, modern medical science and technology provides for several treatment options! Your treatment protocol will depend on factors like the type of vaginal cancer you have and its stage (i.e., Stage 1 to 4). Your oncologist will choose from among these options:
Your doctor may choose to remove the cancerous tumor in your vagina using several techniques. These include removal of the small tumors, removal of your vagina, and removal of most of your pelvic organs depending on the extent of damage caused by the cancer cells.
Note: When your entire vagina is removed, you can have reconstructive surgery for a new vagina. Just be sure to set realistic expectations about its functions especially during intercourse.
- Radiation therapy
This uses high-powered energy beams in killing cancer cells. Your doctor will decide between external (i.e., radiation is directed externally at your pelvis or abdomen) and internal (i.e., radioactive devices are inserted into your vagina) radiation therapy.
While chemotherapy is not generally used in the treatment of vaginal cancer, it may be helpful in some cases so ask your doctor about it, too.
The bottom line: You have hope of conquering vaginal cancer, but you must catch it, so to speak, early on so as to fight it well. Give us a call 888-719-8448 or stop on by at one of our location.
Healthpointe is a leading multidisciplinary healthcare organization offering a full range of medical services in practice locations throughout Southern California (Los Angeles county, Orange county, San Bernardino county and Riverside county). Healthpointe has locations situated in over 10 cities in Southern California including Temecula, which is conveniently located near Murrieta, Fallbrook, Wildomar, Canyon Lake, and Sun City. As a highly regarded musculoskeletal group, we have a personal investment in the highest level of service, and we are proud of our record of excellence over the last four decades with private patients, injured workers, urgent care, personal injuries, and professional and non-professional athletes. Leading our organization is a dynamic team of healthcare professionals who continually strive to be at the forefront of medical innovation and healthcare service delivery. For more information, a complete list of services, and Healthpointe locations, visit healthpointe.net