Cancer is a severe health condition and it is malicious too. It can occur in your any body part. Vaginal cancer is quite a rare case but this is also possible. If you want to protect yourself from the dangerous effect of vaginal cancer then make yourself aware of the symptoms and causes of vaginal cancer.
Symptoms of Vaginal Cancer
If you have developed cancer in the vagina then you needed immediate medical attention as early stage diagnosis and treatment can relieve your condition otherwise it can be life threatening too. Following are some common signs of vaginal cancer. These symptoms or sign may or may not developed in your early stage, so don’t make further delay if you are noticing the below-mentioned symptoms.
Unusual Vaginal Discharge
If you are noticing an abnormality in your vaginal discharge or unusual site in the flow, color and texture of vaginal discharge since few months then don’t ignore it at all. It’s not that it will only happen because of vaginal cancer, it might be happening due to some other reasons also but early stage consultation with a gynecologist can make the real cause clear to you. Also if this is happening due to cancer then you can start your treatment at an early stage.
If you have developed cancer in vagina then you will feel pain during the intercourse. This pain may last even after the intercourse for few hours or for a day. The genital tissue which gets affected by cancer starts growing more than its usual size and this causes obstruction during intercourse hence cramp occurs.
Pain while Urination
You can feel a severe cramp during urination if you are affected by cancer in vagina zone. There is a muscular tube that makes a connection between outer genitals and the uterus. This muscular tube can be the cancer-prone area and become painful while urinating.
Swelling in Legs
Swelling starts appearing because of cancer in the vagina and this makes the affected person restless.
Pain in the Pelvic Zone
You may start noticing pain in the pelvic area or lower part of the abdominal area which lies between the hip bones. If this symptom is occurring since months then don’t ignore it at all. Consult with a doctor, if the doctor finds it as a symptom of vaginal cancer after diagnosis then they can start the treatment process and you get saved from its dangerous effects in future.
Pain in the back or leg area
You can notice pain in your back area or in your legs because of vaginal cancer.
Vaginal cancer can affect your digestive system and this can lead to the problem of constipation. This keeps you restless and unhealthy. If regular constipation is observing along with other symptoms then it can be because of cancer in the vagina.
Lump or Mass in Vagina
Because of vaginal cancer, the lump or mass size in vagina gets bigger and this causes pain during the intercourse.
Causes of Vaginal Cancer
Vaginal cancer is the rare case but still, it happens to few women. When the infection in vagina gets malicious or due to Pelvic Inflammatory disease the chances of cancer in the vagina zone lies. Below are some primary reasons for vaginal cancer.
Human Papilloma Virus Infection
Human Papilloma Virus or HPV is a virus which is developed in any part of your body. There are all total 150 HPVs out of these HPV 9 and HPV 11 are developed in the genital area. These are not dangerous and in most of the cases and these infections go away without any kind of treatment.
However, in some cases, this infection doesn’t clear itself and may cause to develop cancer in the vaginal area. Out of 100 cases of vaginal cancer 75 of them carry HPV infection. This virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse also it can affect both men and women.
Past History of Cancer in Cervix or Womb
Women who have past history of cancer in the gynecological regions are most likely to develop cancer in the vaginal area in future. Especially woman with womb cancer history can develop vaginal cancer in future, this particularly happens because of the application of radiotherapy for treating this cancer.
Also, women with past record of cervical cancer or pre-cancer are at risk to develop vaginal cancer. This is because both the cancers carry the same risk factor which is smoking and HPV infection. Radiation therapy which is applied for the treatment of cervical cancer also causes the development of cancer in the genital area.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus
Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV infection harnesses the immunity power of the affected person and this can contaminate vaginal cancer. HIV is the most dangerous infection as it can cause AIDS which is a life-threatening disease.
Due to DES Treatment of Mother
If any lady has taken DES drug during her pregnancy then it may possible that the girl child of that pregnant lady may develop the clear cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina or the cervix. This drug is now prohibited by the FDA. It used to be provided till 1971 for preventing miscarriage.
Women Aging 70 or Above
Women above the age of 70 are mostly developed squamous cell cancer of the vagina. Out of 100, only 15 women who are younger than 40 develops this cancer otherwise 50% of this kind of cancer is seen in women older than 70 years.
In general, the vaginas of all women are lined by flat cell named as squamous cell. Women who are getting period it happens that their vagina has more than one place which is lined by cells naming glandular cells.
These glandular cells are known as adenosis. This mainly occurs in women whose mothers were treated by DES during pregnancy. The adenosis increases the chances of vaginal cancer. This type of case is very rare but still exists.
Pelvic Radiotherapy History
If radiotherapy is applied to someone in order to get relieved from any other bad health condition then this can cause vaginal cancer in future. However, the possibility of cancer due to this reason is very rare.
The pessary is a device which is applied to keep the uterus in its proper place. This particularly happens because in some women the vagina gets extended to its place due to stretched pelvic ligaments. Sometimes the pessary causes a chronic irritation in the vagina which develops the risk of squamous cell cancer in the vagina. However, this is not fully proved that the pessary is the actual reason for cancer in the vagina.
Over smoking habit carry a very high risk of vaginal cancer. One study has proved that women who have developed vaginal cancer have a very bad habit of smoking.
Just like smoking, the consumption of alcohol also carries a very high risk of vaginal cancer to the addicted woman. It is been proved in a study that woman who does not consume alcohol have a lesser risk of vaginal cancer than the woman who consumes alcohol.
Diagnosis of Vaginal Cancer
Once you are noticing the symptoms of vaginal cancer, it should be your primary duty to visit a gynecologist in order to confirm the reason for your symptoms. The doctor will first ask about your past history of physical health and then they will do a physical examination of vaginal area to clear whether the symptoms are occurring due to vaginal cancer or due to some other reason.
The doctor will also ask about your current medication that you are taking and regarding your sexual practices in order to go depth of the symptoms. Any family history of vaginal cancer can also carry a chance to develop vaginal cancer. Following diagnosis, processes are needed to go through for confirming vaginal cancer.
- Pelvic Examination- Pelvic examination will be done for checking the abnormalities if it is there.
- Pap Smear- Pap smear is a test which is conducted for confirming cervical cancer.
- Colposcopy- Colposcopy or examination of the cervix is conducted if abnormalities are found in the Pap test. Also if any suspicious thing is found during the pelvic exam then also this test is needed to be conducted.
- Biopsies- During the Colposcopy test this test is conducted. Under this test, a small tissue sample is taken for the examination in the labs. This test gives more definite result regarding vaginal cancer. As this test is painful so local anesthetic is given to the patient before the test.
Treatment of Vaginal Cancer
Once it is fully clear after the diagnosis process that the patient has developed vaginal cancer or cervical cancer then the team of doctor’s starts its treatment so that it won’t get extended further. The treatment procedure which is applied for treating vaginal cancer is also applied to treating cancer in any other body part.
Initial stage recognition of vaginal cancer is good for you as you have enough chance to get recover fully. Though vaginal cancer is very rare to occur still if it is confirmed after proper diagnosis then following medical treatment is applied in order to recover the health condition.
Under the radiation therapy of vaginal cancer treatment, a very high range or powers of X-rays and other types of radiation is applied to the portion which is affected in order to kill the cancer cells. A big X-ray machine is used for sending its rays to the vaginal area.
Application of radiation therapy can damage your ovaries. This causes obstruction in the production of estrogen hormones which further lead to develop menopause symptoms such as pelvic pain, hot flashes, dryness in vagina etc.
Women who are already in their menopause cycle will not develop these symptoms. Tough this therapy will relieve your vaginal cancer but it is also accompanied by some side effects. Such as cramp during sex due to lack of moisture, tenderness and swollen in the vagina.
Medication treatment is provided for killing cancer’s cells under the Chemotherapy cancer treatment procedure. This medication can be taken via mouth or through an IV. In the cases of squamous cell vaginal cancer, a cream or lotion is prescribed by the gynecologist under chemo treatment.
The chemotherapy comes with some side effects like after the application of this treatment people lost their sex drive. Some other side effects of chemo treatment are hair loss, changes in body weight and nausea etc.
Surgery is the final step of vaginal cancer treatment. If the condition of the patient is severe and she cannot be relieved by other treatment processes such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy then in order to save the patient from danger surgery is conducted as a final step.
Under the surgery, through the use of laser affected tissues are cut down so that it won’t grow further and cancer is relived. In the cases where the uterus is fully affected then the full organ removal is required. In certain cases, cervix and other organs are also needed to be removed depending on the severity of cancer and patient’s condition.
This surgery doesn’t affect the sex life in most of the cases and they can continue their sex life as usual. However, sex after surgery can lead to infection and bleed on the surgical area. So it’s better to take an advice from the doctor regarding when to have sex and other related things.
The healing time after sex also affects your sex life. It depends upon the type of surgical process that is applied to you that when you will be completely healed. Always look for the 2nd and 3rd opinion of different doctors before taking the decision of surgical treatment.
It is suggested that before starting any treatment process for dealing with vaginal cancer, stay aware of its most probable side effects which can also affect to your health later on then and only decide for your treatment. We hope this article has given a good glance at the symptoms and causes of vaginal cancer and our readers will be much more aware regarding this disease.