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Vulvar and Vaginal Cancer 101

On this page you will learn about symptoms of vulvar and vaginal cancer, diagnosis, and treatment options. We hope this information will help you prepare for a discussion with your gynecologist or a Gynecologic Oncologist.

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is usually named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later.


Vaginal cancer begins in the vagina, the muscular tube, also called the birth canal, that connects the outer genitalia to the uterus. Most of these cancers are in the lining (squamous epthelilum) of the vagina and usually impact people between 50-70 years old. Primary vaginal cancer is one of the rarest gynecologic cancers as oftentimes cancer cells found in the vagina originate from the uterus, vulva, or other organs.

Because many vaginal cancers are associated with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18, vaginal cancer can be prevented by the vaccinations advocated for the prevention of cervical cancer.

how to pronounce gynecologic
female gynecologic system

The Foundation for Women's Cancer has helpful brochures, available at the links below.

Vaginal Cancer Symptoms

Vaginal cancer, especially at the precancerous and early stages, may not cause any symptoms


Common signs for more advanced vaginal cancer include:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding (i.e., between menses, after intercourse, new postmenopausal

  • Pain (vaginal, vulvar, lower abdominal/pelvic, back or flank)

  • Problems with urination or bowel movements

  • Watery vaginal discharge

  • Lump or mass in the vagina

If vaginal or vulvar cancer is suspected or diagnosed, it is important to seek care first from a gynecologic oncologist—medical doctors with specialized training in treating gynecologic cancers who can manage your care from diagnosis to completion of treatment. See our Gynecologic Oncologist page. 

Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Screening

If one or more of these symptoms or risk factors is true for you,

it does not mean you have or will necessarily get vaginal or vulvar cancer.


Please report all your symptoms and risk factors to a doctor, preferably a gynecologist.

Connection and support for all with gynecologic cancer

Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance is now

Connection and support for all with gynecologic cancer

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