Why choose us for vaginal cancer care?
Vaginal cancer cells can come from many different types of cells that make up the vagina (muscular channel in the female genital tract). At Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, you receive specialized expertise for vaginal cancer and other rare gynecological tumors, close to home.
A team of highly trained cancer doctors (gynecologic surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists and radiologists) work closely together to personalize your care. You can access leading cancer innovations not offered elsewhere in San Antonio, such as powerful internal radiation therapies (brachytherapy). Women trust us for precise vaginal cancer treatment and a superior care experience.
Vaginal cancer is one of many gynecological cancers we treat. Learn more about our gynecologic oncology program.
What you need to know about vaginal cancer
- Vaginal cancer is one of the rarest types of cancers to affect the female reproductive system. This cancer commonly affects older women in later life (after age 60).
- As a large academic medical center, we see a high volume of vaginal cancers. Our team of gynecologic cancer doctors has a strong understanding of how to treat these rare tumors. We provide an outstanding quality of gynecological cancer care to the San Antonio and surrounding areas.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that spreads through sexual contact. Many HPV infections cause no obvious symptoms or health problems. Certain strains can turn healthy cells into cervical, vaginal or vulvar cancer — sometimes years after being infected. Getting the HPV vaccine can protect against the well-known strains that cause cancer.
- Having HPV or the herpes simplex virus increases your chances of developing vaginal cancer. Pap tests can detect HPV. These routine tests help your doctor identify some of the earliest signs of cervical or vaginal cancers.
- Early detection of vaginal cancer may mean you need less aggressive therapies. Seeing your gynecologist for regular pelvic exams can help detect gynecologic cancers at early stages.
How to talk to your doctor about vaginal cancer
Cancer affects everyone in unique ways. We are here to listen and support you. We answer your questions, including how cancer treatment could affect your reproductive or sexual health.
We review your tests and help you understand how vaginal cancer or cancer therapies could impact your health and daily life. We offer multiple treatment options, giving you choices.
We encourage you to share your preferences so we can better meet your needs. You are welcome to bring family members or trusted friends with you to appointments or treatment sessions.
You might want to ask your doctor about:
- Additional testing you might need and how tests help guide your treatment plan
- Cancer stage, including where vaginal cancer started and whether it has spread
- Treatment options, including surgery or radiation combined with chemotherapy
- Treatment side effects, including how treatment may impact your sexual function
- Clinical trials you may be eligible for at any point in your care
- Support services, including how our unique network of local gynecologic cancer survivors, Purple Heals, can support your health and help you cope
We specialize in treating all types of vaginal cancer, including:
- Squamous cell carcinoma is slow-growing cancer that originates inside the vaginal lining. It is the most common vaginal cancer. Many of these vaginal cancers are associated with a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
- Adenocarcinoma develops from gland cells inside the vagina and usually affects people in mid- to later life.
- Clear cell adenocarcinoma is the only type of adenocarcinoma known to occur early in life. Most people who developed this cancer were exposed to the synthetic estrogen medication diethylstilbestrol (DES) during their mother’s pregnancy.
- Melanoma starts from melanocytes, cells that color skin tissue. Although vaginal tissue is not exposed to the sun, melanoma can still develop in the vagina.