Classification and external resources
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Vaginal cancer is any type of cancer that forms in the tissues of the vagina. Primary vaginal cancer is rare in the general population of women and is usually a squamous-cell carcinoma. Metastases are more common. Vaginal cancer occurs more often in women over age 50, but can occur at any age, even in infancy. It often can be cured if found and treated in early stages. Surgery alone or surgery combined with pelvic radiation is typically used to treat vaginal cancer.
2 Signs and symptoms
6 See also
8 External links
There are two primary types of vaginal cancer: squamous-cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
Vaginal squamous-cell carcinoma arises from the thin, flat squamous cells that line the vagina. This is the most common type of vaginal cancer. It is found most often in women aged 60 or older.
Vaginal adenocarcinoma arises from the glandular (secretory) cells in the lining of the vagina that produce some vaginal fluids. Adenocarcinoma is more likely than squamous cell cancer to spread to the lungs and lymph nodes. It is found most often in women aged 30 or younger.
A specific subtype of adenocarcinoma (clear cell adenocarcinoma) occurs in a small percent of women (termed “DES-Daughters”) born between 1938 and 1973 (later outside the United States) that were exposed to the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) in utero. DES was prescribed to 5 to 10 million mothers in that timespan to prevent possible miscarriages and premature birth. Typically, patients present with DES-related adenocarcinoma before age 30, but increasing evidence suggests possible effects or cancers (including other forms of vaginal glandular tumors) at a later age for DES-exposed women. DES-exposure in women is also linked to various infertility and pregnancy complications. Daughters exposed to DES in utero may also have an increased risk of moderate/severe cervical squamous cell dysplasia and an increased risk of breast cancer. Approximately one in 1,000 (0.1%) DES Daughters will be diagnosed with clear cell adenocarcinoma. The risk is virtually non-existent among premenopausal women not exposed to DES.
There are also less common forms of vaginal cancer:
Vaginal germ cell tumors (primar