The vagina is the organ located between the cervix and vulva, and it expands during sex and childbirth. Vaginal cancer develops when cells in the vagina, part of the female reproductive system, begin to rapidly grow out of control.
Vaginal Cancer at UK Markey Cancer Center
In the UK Markey Cancer Center, the gynecologic oncology team provides patients with care customized to fit their needs. Our program offers the latest in surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy treatments and more.
Our team approach
The gynecologic oncology team includes physicians, nurses and researchers from multiple specialties. Patients are seen in a comfortable, supportive environment. Our team works together providing each member’s individual expertise to offer patients personalized treatment plans suited for their needs.
Markey has provided state-of-the-art cancer care for more than 30 years, and we are proud to be the only comprehensive cancer center in Kentucky designated by the National Cancer Institute. Since 2017, Markey Cancer Center has been nationally recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News & World Report.
Vaginal cancer may not have signs or symptoms in its earliest stages. However, as vaginal cancer becomes more invasive, it can lead to symptoms that include:
- A bump or lump in the vagina
- Pain during intercourse
- Vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal discharge
When vaginal cancer is more advanced, it can cause symptoms that include:
- Back pain
- Bowel habit changes (constipation)
- Leg swelling
- Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis
- Pain while urinating
For women with vaginal cancer, outcomes depend on the stage at detection. Regular Thin Prep or human papillomavirus (HPV) screening can identify precancerous changes before the cancer develops. Localized vaginal cancer has a five-year survival rate of about 66 percent, while cancer that has spread to distant areas has a survival rate of about 21 percent. For more information on vaginal cancer survival rates, visit the American Cancer Society website.
You can lower your risk of cancer by taking steps to build a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways you can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health:
- Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco has been tied to multiple cancers, and it is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
- Stay physically active. Your physical activity is related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight gained from inactivity increases the risk of multiple cancers.
- Limit alcohol consumption. It is important to be mindful of how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol intake, even in moderate amounts, can increase the risk for colon, breast, esophageal and oropharyngeal cancer.
- Learn about screenings. Your primary care doctor can recommend appropriate cancer screenings based on your age, personal risk and family history.
- Alcohol use
- Cervical cancer or precancer
- Cigarette use
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
- Maternal use of diethylstilbestrol, a miscarriage-prevention hormone used by some women from 1940–1971
- Presence of human papillomavirus (HPV)
- For your first visit, you will be directed to the Gynecologic Oncology Clinic on the third floor of the Whitney-Hendrickson Building.
- You can register at the front desk or registration area, where a Markey team member will help guide you through your appointment.
- Several parking options are available to patients of Markey Cancer Center.
- Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
- To meet our patient needs, UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.
Clinical trials are research studies aimed at evaluating medical, surgical or behavioral interventions to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective.
At UK Markey Cancer Center, we are advancing cancer care and research to prevent, detect and treat cancer – one patient at a time. As a patient at Markey, you have a team of people looking at your individual case, applying the most recent cancer knowledge to give you the best chance of survival.
Markey has more open clinical trials than any other cancer center in the region, giving you access to some of the most advanced options available. Learn more about ongoing clinical trials for treating vaginal cancer.