When talking about cancer in women, breast cancer is usually one of the most common . But beyond this disease, women can suffer other types of cancer exclusive to our sex: gynecological cancers.
Gynecological cancers are all those that originate in the female reproductive organs.
The name of the type of cancer depends on where the first outbreak of cancer cells occurs. It can be of cervix, ovary, uterus, vulva or vagina.
In simple words, the National Cancer Institute explains that cancer begins when the body’s cells begin to multiply out of control and form masses known as tumors.
We refer to vaginal cancer or vaginal cancer when this condition occurs just in this area of the woman’s body, that is, in the muscular duct that connects the uterus with the female external genitalia.
Vaginal cancer is rare and is one of the rarest. According to the Mexican Social Security Institute , only 1% to 3% of gynecological cancers correspond to vaginal.
However, its early detection is quite complicated, because when this cancer is in its early stages it does not usually present as visible or alarming symptoms.
Symptoms of Vaginal Cancer
The American Cancer Society explains that as vaginal cancer progresses, it can be known as invasive vaginal cancer or advanced vaginal cancer.
Invasive vaginal cancer usually spreads to nearby tissues of the vagina or penetrates deeper into the vaginal wall. In these cases, women may have one or more of the following symptoms.
# 1 Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Rady Children’s Hospital experts explain that vaginal discharge is usually white or transparent. Its consistency is usually sticky and elastic, or sticky and a bit thick, depending on the day of the cycle. We talk about an abnormal vaginal discharge when it does not meet these characteristics.
# 2 Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
This bleeding is usually abnormal because of its amount, duration or the moment it appears (for example, between menstrual periods). It usually occurs after having sex.
# 3 Change in the Anatomy of the Vagina
A small ball, lump or lump appears in the vagina, which is very easy to identify and feel.
# 4 Pain in the Pelvis
This pain occurs especially during sexual intercourse.
# 5 Pain when they need to Urinate
Pelvic pain can also occur when bathing. In addition, you may experience pain when you need to urinate and occurs more frequently.
With respect to advanced vaginal cancer, which is when the disease has already spread outside the vagina, the above symptoms prevail, but others may occur such as:
- Back pain
- Swelling in the legs
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ), it is important that you know your body in normal conditions to be able to identify when something strange is happening in it.
Presenting these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have cancer, since sometimes they are signs of other types of conditions. Therefore, it is very important to go to the doctor if you notice any, in this way you can know which is true cause.
In case of vaginal cancer, the treatments to fight it depend on the stage in which it is. According to Mayo Clinic , surgeries can be performed to remove cancer tumors or even remove the entire vagina or adjacent organs that have affected the cancer.
It can also be fought with procedures that help eliminate cancer cells, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Can vaginal cancer be prevented?
Because the cause of vaginal cancer is unclear, there is no specific act to prevent it. However, you can take actions to reduce the risk factors related to this type of cancer.
There are some risk factors that you cannot control, such as age, since most women with vaginal cancer are over 60 years old.
But there are others that are within your control. These risk factors are smoking, having several sexual partners or not practicing sex with protection.
It is important that you have a pap smear and pelvic exams regularly. You can also get vaccinated against Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
According to Mayo Clinic , this vaccine can reduce the risk of vaginal cancer and other types of HPV-related cancer.