What is vaginal cancer?
The vagina is a tube-like organ in a woman’s reproductive system. It connects the cervix (lower part of the uterus) to the outside female genitals. When a baby is born, it passes through the vagina, so it’s also called the birth canal.
Normally, cells in the body will grow and divide to replace old or damaged cells. This growth is usually precise. Once enough cells are produced to replace the old ones, normal cells stop dividing. Tumors occur when there is an error and cells continue to grow uncontrollably. With vaginal cancer, a tumor develops from cancerous (malignant) cells in the vagina.
While vaginal cancers are rare, the most common type is squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cells are thin, flat cells that line the vagina. It’s slow to spread (metastasize) but can move into other organs including the liver, lungs and bones.
Successful treatment of vaginal cancer depends on age, stage and location of cancer and other factors.