What Is Vaginal Cancer?

cancer animation
Cancer cells divide rapidly and out of control.
To help you understand what is happening when you have cancer, it helps to understand how your body works normally. Our bodies consist of tiny building blocks called cells. Normal cells grow and multiply when the body needs them, and die out when the body does not need them.

Cancer is made up of abnormal cells that grow whether your body needs them or not. In most cancers, the abnormal cells grow so they form a lump called a tumor.

Vaginal cancer is when cancer forms in your vagina. The vagina, also called the birth canal, is a hollow, tube-like passageway between the bottom part of the uterus and the outside of the body.

Most vaginal cancers begin in the lining of the vagina, called the epithelium. These are called vaginal squamous cell carcinomas. This type of vaginal cancer develops over many years. It develops from precancerous changes, called vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN).

These are other, very rare types of vaginal cancer.

  • Adenocarcinomas, which develop in the mucosal layer of the vagina

  • Malignant melanomas, which affect the lower or outer portion of the vagina

  • Sarcomas, which develop deep in the wall of the vagina 

  • Other cancers, such as lymphoma, which may spread to the vagina.

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