What are the symptoms of vaginal cancer?

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Vaginal cancer often does not have symptoms in its early stages. Because it is often found during a routine gynecologic check-up, it is important for women to have regular pelvic exams and Pap tests.

If symptoms of vaginal cancer do appear, they may include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge between menstrual periods
  • Pain while urinating 
  • A lump in the vagina
  • Constipation

How is vaginal cancer diagnosed? 

If a Pap smear or pelvic exam has abnormal results, your doctor will likely recommend additional diagnostic tests, including another pelvic exam or Pap smear. He or she will also conduct a physical exam to check your overall health and discuss your medical history.

Other diagnostic tests that may be used include:

  • Biopsy - During a biopsy, your doctor will remove a tiny piece of tissue from a suspicious area and a pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope to see if it has cancerous cells.
  • Colposcopy - During this test, your doctor will use a lighted instrument with magnifying binoculars (colposcope) to examine your vagina and cervix for abnormal areas. Your doctor may also do a biopsy during the colposcopy.

If your doctor believes your cancer may have spread, he or she may also order imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans or MRIs.

Gynecologic oncologists at Miami Cancer Institute also work closely with specialists in our Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory to help pinpoint your exact type of tumor and the most effective way to treat the vaginal cancer.

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