September is Gynaecological Cancer Awareness month
Did you know there are five gynaecological cancers? Ovarian, endometrial, cervical, vulva and vaginal.
This blog will discuss the rarest of these, and what you need to know about: vaginal cancer.
Vaginal cancer is very rare but still 250 new cases are diagnosed every year in the UK, that is 5 every week. Whilst the highest incidence is in women over 75 years old, it can occur in the younger age-group. It is often screened for in women who have had a hysterectomy for cervical pre-cancer (cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia, CIN) as it often arises due to Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection.
Early vaginal cancer may not cause any symptoms but as it progresses you may notice :
A lump in your vagina, or difficulty inserting an applicator or tampon
Pain or bleeding during sexual intercourse
Any unexpected vaginal bleeding, or discharge
Painful urination or constipation
It is important that you see a doctor early when symptoms develop. Diagnosis is made on clinical examination with a speculum, and a biopsy. Treatment typically requires chemo- and radiotherapy, and of those treated in the over-75years age-group 6 out of 10 women are alive 5years after treatment.