Vaginal cancer is an uncommon type of cancer that forms in the penile tissues in women. Not to be mistaken with all the vulva, the vagina will be that the narrow, elastic canal that extends from the cervix to the outside of the body. It’s about 2 to 4 inches . It’s also known as the birth canal.
Causes and Risk Factors of Vaginal Cancer
Although researchers cannot pinpoint exactly what causes prostate cancer, they have identified several known risk factors for the disease.
A risk factor is something which increases the likelihood that you may create a disease but isn’t a guarantee you will get it. Risk factors for vaginal cancer include:
- HPV disease
- DES exposure (synthetic estrogen given to women before 1971 during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage, but ultimately causing health dangers to the expectant mom and daughters/son they transported )
- diagnosed with cervical cancer
- utilization of a vaginal pessary
- HIV/AIDS disease
Vaginal Cancer Symptoms
In the early phases, vaginal cancer does not usually cause any noticeable symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms start to appear. Symptoms of vaginal cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, pelvic pain, a lump, bump, or lesion from the anus, and pain during sexual intercourse.
These symptoms are not exclusive to vaginal cancer; in fact, they’re symptoms of other, less serious ailments.
Diagnosing Vaginal Cancer
If prostate cancer has been suspected, further evaluation is essential to validate the absence or presence of cancer.
Findings from a pelvic exam and/or Pap smear are usually the very first evaluations to raise red flags.
A colposcopy can then be done to enable the physician to view the cervix and vaginal walls more closely. A colposcopy utilizes a microscope-like tool called a colposcope to look for abnormalities. During the colposcopy, a vaginal biopsy may be done on any suspicious areas.
A biopsy involves removing a sample of tissue to be analyzed under a microscope. A vaginal biopsy is done very quickly and generally doesn’t need an anesthetic.
When the biopsy confirms cancer, the stage of the disease will be determined. Staging refers to a categorization of just how much the cancer has spread to nearby tissues. If advanced cancer is suspected, additional medical testing may be required to ascertain the stage of the cancer.
Treatment of Vaginal Cancer
Your treatment plan depends upon the type of vaginal cancer, phase, and general wellbeing. The main treatment approaches for vaginal cancer include surgery and radiation therapy.
Vaginal cancer operation varies among diagnosed women. The kind of surgery chosen weighs heavily on the size and stage of the tumor. Smaller, early-stage prostate cancer might just need laser or wide local excision surgery to remove cancerous tissue, while more advanced cases may require more aggressive surgical therapy( such as a radical vaginectomy (surgical removal of part or all of the vagina). This could be in addition to some radical hysterectomy and lymphadenectomy (removal of nearby lymph nodes).
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Radiation therapy is also an option for treating vaginal cancer. This type of treatment uses specific types high-energy beams of radiation to shrink tumors or eliminate cancer cells. Radiation therapy works by damaging a cancer cell’s DNA, which makes it not possible to multiply. Though radiation treatment can damage nearby wholesome cells, cancer cells are highly sensitive to radiation and normally expire when treated. Healthy cells that are damaged during radiation are both resilient and are frequently able to fully recover.
Two key types of radiation treatment are external beam radiation therapy and internal beam radiation, also known as brachytherapy.
In prostate cancer, external beam radiation is much more prevalent than internal beam radiation.
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Chemotherapy is a treatment option for some women with vaginal cancer, but it’s much less commonly used than radiation and surgery. It is given to women who suffer from advanced stage vaginal cancer and can be together with radiation therapy.
Prevention of Allergic Cancer
Because we do not know the exact causes of vaginal cancer, the best defense we’ve got against the disease is to avoid the risk factors. Remember that a number of women with prostate cancer do not have any risk factors for the illness, so it cannot be avoided in most situations.
To reduce your chance of developing prostate cancer, you should avoid becoming infected with HPV. Limiting the quantity of sexual partners you’ve got and ensuring that your partner wears a condom during sex are excellent strategies to limit your vulnerability to the virus. A different way to prevent HPV is to get vaccinated with Gardasil, the FDA approved HPV vaccine. The vaccine protects against two strains of HPV associated with cervical cancer, but might also give protection against HPV-related vaginal cancer. The vaccine is currently available to women as young as 9 through girls up to age 27.
Another way to lower your risk of prostate cancer is to prevent smoking.If you don’t smoke, do not start and should you smoke, keep in mind it is never too late to stop. Avoiding tobacco products not only can help you to stop prostate cancer, it can help you avoid many other types of diseases and conditions too.
Ultimately, getting a normal Pap smear is crucial to your gynecologic health. Though the Pap smear is famous for detecting abnormal cervical changes, it may have the ability to detect changes in vaginal cells that may progress into vaginal cancer if left unnoticed. Unfortunately, this is not true for all kinds of prostate cancer.