ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about how doctors describe a cancer’s growth or spread. This is called the stage. Use the menu to see other pages.
What is cancer staging?
Staging is a way of describing where the cancer is located, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting other parts of the body.
Doctors use diagnostic tests to find the cancer's stage, so staging may not be complete until all of the tests are finished. Knowing the stage helps the doctor recommend what the best kind of treatment is, and it can help predict a patient's prognosis, which is the chance of recovery. There are different stage descriptions for different types of cancer. For vaginal cancer, the staging system developed by FIGO, the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Federation Internationale de Gynecologie et d'Obstetrique), is most commonly used.
FIGO stages in vaginal cancer
Doctors assign the stage of the cancer by evaluating the tumor and whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
Stage I: The tumor is only in the vagina. It has not spread through the vaginal wall or to other parts of the body.
Stage II: The tumor has spread through the vaginal wall but not to the walls of the pelvis.
Stage III: Either of these conditions applies:
Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the pelvis.
Cancer has spread to the pelvic wall.
Stage IVA: Cancer has spread to the bladder, rectum, or beyond the pelvis. The lymph nodes may or may not be involved.
Stage IVB: Cancer has spread to a distant part of the body.
Recurrent vaginal cancer
Recurrent cancer is cancer that has come back after treatment. If the cancer does return, there will be another round of tests to learn about the extent of the recurrence. These tests and scans are often similar to those done at the time of the original diagnosis.
Information about the cancer’s stage will help the doctor recommend a specific treatment plan. The next section in this guide is Types of Treatment. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.