There are currently no screening tests for detecting vaginal cancer in asymptomatic women. Women who have precancerous areas of vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN) or early-stage vaginal cancer often experience no symptoms that would otherwise indicate a need for medical attention. There are, however, some general medical tests that can detect VAIN and other abnormalities that could indicate the need for further diagnostic testing. Being aware of warning signs and keeping up with well-woman recommendations can help catch cancer in early stages when there are more treatment options available.
Vaginal cancer screening recommendations
It’s advised that all women receive an annual well-woman checkup that includes a pelvic exam to check for abnormalities that may point to vaginal cancer. Women under age 65 should also receive an annual Pap test, which can detect cervical cancer and cervical precancerous conditions, which are often precursors to vaginal cancer. If abnormalities are found, other procedures may be recommended to determine if an individual has vaginal cancer:
- Colposcopy - This procedure involves magnifying the surface of the vagina using a special lighted instrument called a colposcope to look for abnormal cells.
- Biopsy - If abnormal cells are found during a colposcopy, the doctor will remove a sample of the vaginal tissue to test for cancer cells.
In addition, women are encouraged to learn about the risk factors for vaginal cancer, pay close attention to their bodies, become familiar with what is normal for them and report any unusual changes promptly to a physician. A physician can also provide individualized risk management and vaginal cancer prevention strategies.
The multispecialty team in the gynecologic clinic at Moffitt Cancer Center is highly skilled and experienced in using the most advanced techniques and technology to diagnose and treat vaginal cancer. Additionally, our nationally acclaimed research team is continually developing and evaluating new screening methods and treatments. Our patients benefit from the expertise of a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center that offers a full range of diagnostic, treatment and supportive care services, and is well equipped to address not only cancer, but all of a patient’s health and wellness needs.
If you’d like to learn more about vaginal cancer screening, contact the experts at Moffitt by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing a new patient registration form online. We see patients with and without referrals.