Pathophysiology: Vaginal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the vagina. Vaginal cancer is staged in three ways, based on how far the tumor has progressed in the vagina, whether it has spread to the lymph nodes, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. These three categories are called T (tumor), N (nodes), and M (whether it has metastasized, or spread).
Disease statistics: Vaginal cancer accounts for approximately 4000 cases and over 900 deaths annually. Approximately 1 in 100,000 women will be diagnosed with in situ or invasive vaginal cancer (typically of squamous cell histology). The mean age at diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma, the most common histologic type of vaginal cancer, is approximately 60 years, although the disease is seen occasionally in women in their 20s and 30s. Squamous carcinoma is more common as the age of the patient increases.
Treatment: Surgery is the most common treatment of vaginal cancer. The surgical procedures used are Laser surgery (uses a laser beam as a knife to make bloodless cuts in tissue or to remove a surface lesion such as a tumor); Wide local excision (takes out the cancer and some of the healthy tissue around it); Vaginectomy (Surgery to remove all or part of the vagina).
Research: Researchers and healthcare professionals take the knowledge gained from research studies and use it to develop better practices that will help prevent, detect and treat vaginal cancer, as well as improve the quality of life of women with vaginal cancer.