There is no definite way to prevent vaginal cancer, but you can definitely reduce your risk of getting this cancer. Read to learn some ways of reducing the risk of this rare gynecological cancer.
Go for regular pelvic exams and Pap tests: Women, who go for regular gynecological examinations and Pap smear, they may be able to be diagnosed with cancer in the early stages. Prognosis and response to treatment is better for cancers detected in the early stages. Many experts recommend that women should start having pelvic exams soon after they become sexually active and Pap tests at age 21. Pap test is a screening test for cervical cancer, which can also help one detect vaginal cancer in the early stages. According to experts, regular Pap tests can help detect dysplastic changes in the vaginal cells in the early stages. In this test, your doctor will take a sample of the cells from the vagina and examine them under a microscope for abnormalities. Your doctor can advise you regarding Pap test schedule and pelvic examination based on your age and risk factors.
Get vaccinated against HPV: Studies have shown that human papillomavirus (HPV) infection increases the risk of many cancers such as anal, vulvar, vaginal and cervical cancers. Vaccines that can help to protect one against HPV subtypes 16 and 18 (as well as 6 and 11) are available in the market. According to studies, vaccines for HPV are effective for the prevention of anal and genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11 and anal, vulvar, vaginal, and cervical cancers and pre-cancers caused by types 16 and 18. Currently, there are two approved vaccines that canprotect against HPV infection. Both these vaccines are safe and effective for preventing infection with HPV type 16 and 18 in women, who have not been exposed to the virus. The efficacy decreases in women, who have already been infected with HPV.
Avoid Smoke: Studies have shown that women who smoke are more likely to develop a number of cancers (lungs, mouth, throat, bladder, kidneys) including vaginal cancer. Quitting smoking can lower the risk of vaginal cancer.
Avoid HPV infection: Infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) is known to increase the risk of vaginal cancer. The infection is transmitted sexually (HPV infection can be transmitted by oral, anal or genital sex). Infection with HPV is common, however, in most people the infection is cleared from the body on its own, but in some, the infection may persist and become chronic. People with chronic infection, especially with high-risk HPV types are at an increased risk of developing certain cancers including vaginal cancer. Although, there is no definite way to prevent HPV infection, you can reduce your risk by practicing safe sex such as living in a monogamous relationship with a partner who is not infected and is in a monogamous relation with you (as this decreases the risk of any STD including HPV infection). Avoid having sex with individuals, who have genital warts or any other STD and make sure to use condoms regularly.