There are many treatment options for vaginal cancer. Treatment for any cancer aims to cure the disease, but if this is not possible, the focus shifts to preventing the tumour from growing or spreading thereby, increasing life expectancy and maintaining a good quality of life.
Treatment options for vaginal cancer include:
Treatment is influenced by many factors such as:
Most cases of vaginal cancer are treated by surgery and radiation.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) uses high-powered energy beams (x-rays or other types of radiation) to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumours. Radiation therapy is directed at the cancer cells. Radiotherapy, however, damages normal cells of the body and can cause several side effects such as fatigue, nausea and vomiting and erythema of skin. Your doctor will recommend a treatment based on the severity of the symptoms. The two types of radiation therapy used for treatment of vaginal cancer include:
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a mode of cancer treatment, which uses certain drugs to destroy or kill cancer cells. As the effectiveness of chemotherapy in women with vaginal cancer is not established, it is generally not used on its own to treat vaginal cancer. It is usually given along with radiation therapy (as chemotherapy can enhance the effectiveness of radiation).
Surgery: Surgery aims to remove (if possible) all the cancer. It is most often used for the treatment of early stage vaginal cancer i.e. when the cancer is limited to the vagina or is near the tissue. As the pelvis has many important organs, surgery for larger tumours may necessitate the removal of these organs. In these cases, other treatment methods may be used to control the cancer before attempting a surgery. Different surgeries done in women with vaginal cancer include:
Surgery that is done depends on the stage and extent of tumour. Your doctor will decide the type of surgery that is needed after repeated discussions with you and examination (including tests). In case the vagina is completely removed, your doctor may do a surgery to construct a new vagina.
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