Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Vaginal Cancer

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 4/2014
Symptoms and Signs

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Precancerous conditions, such as VAIN (see Overview), and early-stage vaginal cancer do not often cause symptoms in the early stages, but cancer in later 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.

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

If you are concerned about one or more of the symptoms or signs on this list, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms 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.

The next section helps explain what tests and scans may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Diagnosis, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.  

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