Vaginal cancer is a relatively uncommon form of cancer. Diagnosis numbers have shown vaginal cancer comprising 1% to 2% of malignancies of the female genital tract and a very tiny percentage of all types of cancers.
Several types of cancer can spread to the vagina from other parts of the body, but it is rare (primary vaginal cancer) for cancer to begin in the vagina. The likelihood of a cure is highest when vaginal cancer is discovered in its early stages. Treating vaginal cancer that has spread outside of the vagina is substantially more challenging.
A risk factor is something that increases a person's chance of getting cancer. While risk factors often have an impact on how cancer progresses, the majority do not actually cause cancer. Many women with risk factors do not develop cancer, whereas others with zero risk factors do. Understanding your risk factors and discussing them with your doctor can help you make better-informed decisions regarding your lifestyle and medical care.
It is not known what causes most vaginal cancers. It is, however, more likely for women who fall into the following groups to develop vaginal cancer:
Women who have the sexually transmitted disease HPV (human papillomavirus), which increases the risk of various types of reproductive organ cancers, including vaginal and cervical cancer. An HPV infection can result in cell abnormalities that raise their chance of developing cancer in the future.
Women who have a history of precancerous vaginal conditions. Vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN) is the term for malignant cells that develop in the vagina. Although not cancerous, these cells are distinct from healthy cells. Not all women with VAIN will get vaginal cancer. HPV infection leads to VAIN.
Women who have undergone the procedure to remove the uterus (hysterectomy). This increases the chance of VAIN.
A woman who has been treated for cervical cancer or a precancerous condition of the cervical region
Smoking raises the chances of vaginal cancer for women
Women who are HIV-positive, have autoimmune diseases, or have any other conditions that make their immune systems less efficient. A woman's risk of getting an HPV infection rises when her immune system is compromised, which also raises her risk of developing vaginal cancer.
Other vaginal cancer risk factors include multiple sexual partners, exposure to miscarriage prevention drugs as a fetus, and early sexual activity.
A woman's risk of having vaginal cancer rises with age; the average patient is diagnosed with the disease beyond the age of 60. However, women of any age can get vaginal cancer.
There is no sure way to prevent vaginal cancer. However, by following certain preventive steps, vaginal cancer risk factors can be reduced.
The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the HPV vaccine Gardasil for use in preventing vaginal cancer. Additionally, its use is authorized to prevent vaginal precancers. Gardasil aids in preventing HPV infection from the most prevalent strains.
Getting vaccinated against HPV may lower your risk of developing vaginal cancer and other malignancies linked to HPV. Consult your doctor to determine if you should receive the HPV vaccine.
For those who have a higher risk of developing vaginal cancer, routine gynecologic exams can aid in the early detection of cancer or precancerous diseases. You might get an HPV test to look for high-risk (cancer-causing) HPV strains and a Pap test to look for abnormal or precancerous cells on the cervix during this visit. You don't require Pap tests if you've undergone a hysterectomy.
Practice safe sex to help avoid exposure because HPV is a sexually transmitted virus. Although condoms can prevent HPV they won't protect you against HPV completely.
Many types of cancer can develop as a result of smoking cigarettes, including vaginal cancer.
Different types of cancer are brought on by various factors. Researchers are still trying to figure out what causes vaginal cancer and how to prevent it. Vaginal cancer cannot be totally prevented, however, there are ways to reduce your risk. Find out more about your individual risk of cancer by speaking with your medical team.
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