ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the changes and medical problems that can be a sign of vaginal cancer. Use the menu to see other pages.
What are the symptoms and signs of vaginal cancer?
People with vaginal cancer may experience one or more of the following symptoms or signs. Symptoms are changes that you can feel in your body. Signs are changes in something measured, like taking your blood pressure or doing a lab test. Together, symptoms and signs can help describe a medical problem. Sometimes, people with vaginal cancer do not have any of the symptoms and signs described below. Or, the cause of a symptom or sign may be a medical condition that is not cancer.
Precancerous conditions, such as vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VaIN; see Introduction), and early-stage vaginal cancer do not often cause symptoms. Cancer in later stages can cause symptoms. Many cases of VaIN and early vaginal cancer can be found through regular gynecologic examinations or Pap tests (see Diagnosis).
The most common symptom of vaginal cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding. Vaginal bleeding during or after menopause may be the sign of a problem and should be discussed with your doctor. 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
Abnormal bowel function
If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will try to understand what is causing your symptom(s). They may do an exam and order tests to understand the cause of the problem, which is called a diagnosis.
If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called "palliative and supportive care," which is not the same as hospice care given at the end of life. You can receive palliative and supportive care at any time during cancer treatment. This type of care focuses on managing symptoms and supporting people who face serious illnesses, such as cancer. Learn more in this guide’s section on Coping with Treatment.
Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.
The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.