Vaginal Cancer: Treatment Choices
There are various treatment choices for vaginal cancer. Your treatment
for vaginal cancer depends on the results of your lab tests, where the
cancer is growing, and if it has spread. Your doctor will also consider
your age and overall health, as well as your own preferences. If you want
to be pregnant in the future, your cancer care team will consider this, too.
Learning about your treatment options
You may have questions and concerns about your treatment options. You may
also want to know how you'll feel and function after treatment, and
if you'll have to change your normal activities.
The healthcare provider is the best person to answer your questions. He
or she can tell you what your treatment choices are, how successful they're
expected to be, and what the risks and side effects are. Your healthcare
provider may advise a specific treatment. Or he or she may offer more
than 1, and ask you to decide which one you'd like to use. It can
be hard to make this decision. It is important to take the time you need
to make the best decision.
Understanding the goals of treatment for vaginal cancer
Treatment may help control or cure vaginal cancer. It can also improve
your quality of life by helping to control the symptoms of the disease.
The goal of vaginal cancer treatment is to do one or more of these:
Remove the main vaginal cancer tumor
Kill vaginal cancer cells
Stop the growth or spread of vaginal cancer cells
Prevent or delay the cancer growing back
Ease symptoms of the cancer, such as pain or pressure on organs
Types of treatment for vaginal cancer
There are two main kinds of treatment for gallbladder cancer:
Local treatments. These remove, destroy, or control cancer cells in one area of the body.
Surgery and radiation are local treatments.
Systemic treatments. These destroy or control cancer cells throughout the whole body. Chemotherapy
is a systemic treatment.
You may have just one treatment or a combination of these treatments:
Surgery. Surgery is used to remove the cancer from your vagina. During the surgery,
a biopsy on may be done on the lymph nodes in the groin and the pelvis.
This is where vaginal cancer often spreads (metastasizes). The results
of your biopsy will help your doctor see if the cancer has spread. If
the cancer has spread, the doctor may need to remove other organs or tissue
Radiation therapy. This treatment kills cancer cells with high-energy radiation. The radiation
may come from a large machine that directs it into your body. Or radioactive
material may be put inside the vagina for a certain amount of time. Doctors
often use radiation alone to treat vaginal cancer, especially when it's
smaller. Your doctor may use low-dose chemotherapy along with radiation
therapy to make your treatment work better. You may have this treatment
after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may be left.
Chemotherapy. This is the use of medicines to kill cancer cells throughout the body.
Chemotherapy is used to shrink the cancer, while also reducing your chance
that the cancer will spread to other parts of your body. You may have
chemotherapy alone. Or you may have it with radiation to help make the
treatment work better.
Newer types of treatment may be available only through a research study.
This is called a clinical trial. Talk with your healthcare provider about
what clinical trials may be an option for you.
Making a decision
Deciding on the best plan may take some time. Talk with your healthcare
provider about how much time you can take to explore your options. You
may want to get another opinion before deciding on your treatment plan.
In fact, some insurance companies may require a second opinion. In addition,
you may want to involve your family and friends in this process.