Have you ever heard about vaginal cancer? While cervical cancer is well-known and researched, vagina cancer is not that common.
Anyone who is familiar with lady parts is able to make the difference between uterus, cervix, and vagina. However, it turns out that many women are quite ignorant in regard to this.
Take a look at the statistics to put this type of cancer into perspective with other female cancers.
- Uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, will see 61,380 new cases this year and 10,920 deaths.
- Cervical cancer will see 12,820 new cases and 4,210 deaths.
- Vaginal cancer will see 4,810 new cases with 1,240 deaths.
Statistics show that vaginal cancer has fewer cases compared to endometrial and cervical cancer, but this doesn’t mean that it is less important or dangerous issue.
Symptoms of Vaginal Cancer
Before we go into details regarding the symptoms, it is important to mention the differences between uterine, cervical, and vaginal cancer so that you can make the distinction.
Uterine, or endometrial cancer, is the cancer of the womb. In other words, there are cancer cells present in the lining of the womb.
Cervical cancer affects the cervix, a small structure within the vagina which is the opening to the womb.
Vaginal cancer is cancer which affects the vagina. The vagina is the opening which leads to the cervix, which then leads to the uterus.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of vaginal cancer:
- Pelvic pain: This includes pain while urinating or during intercourse.
- Unusual bleeding or discharge: This could mean bleeding after menopause or between periods.
- Change in urination: This means blood in the stool or urine, constipation, or frequent urination.
The Causes of Vaginal Cancer
The cause of vaginal cancer is still unclear, but health experts know some of the risk factors. They include smoking, HIV, HPV, and age ( with increased age meaning increased risk).
It has been scientifically shown that most women with vaginal cancer carry some type of HPV, a common infection with more than hundred different strains. The bad news is that up to 80 million Americans have some type of HPV, with 14 million new cases annually.
What Is the Treatment?
The current treatment for vaginal cancer involves external radiation, internal radiation, chemotherapy, or removing part of the vagina and then getting a reconstructive surgery done.
Early detection can help your cancer, but most cases show symptoms in their late stages. The good news is that up to 84 percent of women diagnosed with stage I survive. Those diagnosed at stage II have a 75 percent survival rate while those with stage III or IV have a 57 percent survival rate.
Prevent Vaginal Cancer
Here are a few tips on how to lower your exposure to some of the known risk factors:
- Stop smoking. This is well known to increase your risk of many cancer types.
- Know your HPV status. HPV is easily transmitted and you don’t necessarily have to have sexual intercourse for it to spread.
- Eat well. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies to reduce your cancer risk.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Just like smoking, alcohol is a risk factor for cancer.
- Supplement as needed. Certain foods are excellent for cancer prevention, such as turmeric, garlic, and foods high in vitamin C, antioxidants and probiotics.