When cancer starts in the vagina, it is called vaginal cancer. Vaginal cancer is extremely rare, but does affect approximately 1,000 women each year in the United States.
Most vaginal cancers do not present with signs and symptoms, but if symptoms are present, they may include:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding/discharge
- Change in bathroom habits to include blood in stool/urine, frequency or constipation
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
There is no way to know who will be diagnosed with vaginal cancer. However there are factors that increase the risk of diagnosis: having HPV, a history of abnormal Pap tests, being HIV positive and smoking.
The risk of vaginal cancer can be lowered by getting the HPV vaccine as recommended, limiting the number of sexual partners and not smoking.