Vaginal cancer is a malignant tumor arising from vagina. Primary vaginal cancer is relatively rare, while secondary vaginal cancer is very common, which can be spread directly from cervical cancer, or from endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, and choriocarcinoma. Besides, cancer cells originating from the bladder, urethra or rectum may also invade the vagina. Therefore, experts from Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou point out that the possibility of secondary vaginal cancer should be eliminated before diagnose a primary one. So, what are the diagnostic methods of vaginal cancer?
Tests for Vaginal Cancer
1. Pelvic Examination: If nodules, lumps, or ulcer is found on the vaginal wall during a pelvic examination, or the elasticity of the vaginal wall disappears, the diseased tissues should be taken for further diagnosis. If there is no apparent abnormality found, Pap smear and colposcopy will help find the lesions. Women can take pelvic examination when vaginal irregular bleeding appears.
2. Pap Smear: The Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. Cells scraped from the opening of the cervix are examined under a microscope. This is the basic method for general population. Women who take routine Pap smear can prevent vaginal cancer and ensure related treatments in an early stage. This examination can be done when abnormal vaginal discharge is found.
3. Colposcopy: It allows the physicians to have a comprehensive observation of the cervix, the vaginal fornix and the vagina. The abnormal regions should take biopsies for further pathological examination. Since lesions of vaginal cancer are only limited to the epithelial cell layer of the surface of the vagina, only through smear or colposcopy can the abnormalities be found.
4. Imaging Examination: Imaging examinations like Type-B Ultrasonography, CT scan and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) will help locate and grade the tumors and guide doctors to make proper treatment plans and evaluate possible prognosis. They are used for screening advanced cancers and are applicable methods for diagnosing symptoms like bleeding urine, hemafecia and difficult defecation.
5. Biopsy and Vaginal Cytology: All abnormal tissues found on the vaginal wall should be taken to have biopsy for qualitative diagnosis. If there is no apparent lesion in the patient, it is better to have vaginal cytology.
6. Serum Immunological Examination: Serum immunological examinations like CEA and CA125 are very useful for observing curative effect and evaluating prognosis.
Experts from Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou remind you that although the incidence of vaginal cancer is low, it is very common in the elders. If any abnormality is found in the vagina, one should go to a regular hospital for diagnosis as soon as possible and have timely treatment.