Vaginal cancer is a rare type of female genital cancer that starts in the cells of the vagina. Many women in the early stages of the cancer may not have any noticeable symptoms. Symptoms may develop as the cancer progresses, but most of these symptoms are non-specific.
Symptoms that may occur with progression include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding: This includes bleeding or spotting in between your regular menstrual periods or contact bleeding (bleeding after sexual intercourse, after douching etc) or bleeding in women after menopause. It is often the first symptom of vaginal cancer in many women. These symptoms, however, are vague symptoms that may be present in many other gynecologic diseases and conditions (such as uterine fibroid, uterine cancer etc).
- Vaginal Discharge: It may be foul smelling, purulent or blood tinged. Many women suffer from vaginal discharge and they usually tend to ignore it. The symptoms may be present in many other gynecologic diseases and conditions such as vaginal infections, cervical cancer etc. Although, it is a common complaint in many women, doctors recommend that if the symptom persists for more than a few days it should be evaluated by your doctor.
- Changes in Urination: Some women may experience an increased frequency of urination (the need to urinate more frequently than usual), dysuria or pain while urinating. Urinary symptoms in vaginal cancer are suggestive of the fact that the cancer has spread to the bladder. Similar symptoms may be caused by urinary tract infection and other gynecological problems.
- Changes in motion: Some women may develop problems with bowel motion (such as constipation, black/tarry stools and a feeling as if the bowels have not been completely emptied) as the cancer progresses and involves the rectum.
- Pelvic Pain: Pelvic pain generally indicates that the cancer has spread beyond the primary site to other pelvic organs. As the cancer invades, it may press on the nearby nerves and organs, which may cause you to feel pain in your leg, pelvis, rear or side. The pain is usually dull, but some women may experience sharp pains.
- Vaginal Mass: Some women may feel heavy or mass in the vagina or the growth may be discovered by the doctor during examination. Mass can be caused by several other medical conditions such as vaginal cysts. The doctor may do a biopsy to determine if the mass is cancerous or not.
These symptoms may be caused due to vaginal cancer. Similar symptoms, however, can be caused by several other medical problems. If you have any bothersome gynecological problem or symptom that persists for more than a few days, consult your doctor. Your doctor can examine and diagnose the underlying cause and recommend a treatment that is best for you.