Carcinomas of the vagina are extremely rare comprising about 1% to 2% of gynecologic malignancies. They are more common in older women (older than 70 years); about 50% of vaginal cancer occurs in women older than 70 years. Prognosis and response to treatment is good in early stages of the disease.
Primary vaginal cancer: If the carcinoma is not treated, it will continue to grow. The survival rate of vaginal cancer is influenced by the age of the patient (survival rate decreases with increasing age at diagnosis) and the stage of the disease. Five-year relative survival rate for different age group s according to a few researches is as follows:
About 50% of the primary vaginal cancers are diagnosed in stage I and II. On an average, five-year survival rate for vaginal cancer is approximately 50%. Survival rate of cancer diagnosed in the early stage before it has spread (stage I) is 84%, which decrease to 57%, if the cancer has spread outside of the vaginal wall (Stage III or IV). The maximum decline in relative survival rate for all stages is observed in the first 2 to 3 years after diagnosis.
Recurrent vaginal cancer: When the cancer recurs (comes back) after it has been treated, it is known as recurrent cancer. Recurrent cancer may occur in the vagina or in other parts of the body. Treatment of recurrent vaginal cancer may include surgery (pelvic exenteration- removal of the majority of the pelvic organs) or radiation therapy. Recurrent vaginal cancer has poor prognosis. In most women, recurrence occurs in the first 2 years after treatment.