Precancerous conditions, such as VAIN (see Overview), and vaginal cancer do not often cause symptoms in the early stages, but cancer in more advanced stages can cause symptoms. However, many cases of VAIN and early vaginal cancer can be found through regular gynecologic examinations or Pap tests (see Diagnosis).
Women with vaginal cancer may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, women with vaginal cancer do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer. If you are concerned about a symptom or sign on this list, please talk with your doctor.
The most common symptom of vaginal cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding. Vaginal bleeding during or after menopause is not normal and is a sign of a problem. Other symptoms of vaginal cancer include:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Difficulty or pain when urinating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain in the pelvic area (the lower part of the abdomen between the hip bones)
- Pain in the back or legs
- Swelling in the legs
Your doctor will ask you questions about the symptoms you are experiencing to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis. This may include how long you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s) and how often.
If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms and side effects remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.