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Vaginal Cancer

See Also:
Vaginal Cancer: Introduction & Pictures
Vaginal Cancer: Types
Vaginal Cancer: Causes & Risk Factors
Vaginal Cancer: Signs & Symptoms
Vaginal Cancer: Stages
Vaginal Cancer: Medical Tests & Diagnosis
Vaginal Cancer: Treatment Options
Vaginal Cancer: Prevention Tips
Cancer Search Engine

Types

There are five types of vaginal cancer according to the type of cell where the cancer starts.

I. Squamous cell carcinomas is/are the most common type of vaginal cancer. It represents 85 to 90 percent of all vaginal cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma develops within the epithelium (the first, thin layer of cells that lines the vaginal walls see illustration) and it tends to start in the upper part of the vagina close to the cervix. It undergoes a slow progress being preceded by a pre-cancerous changes called vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia - VAIN- (that can be detected in time and treated), and it develops over many years. The tumors look like nodules (small lumps) or sores (ulcers) of different sizes. This type of cancer is more common among women between the age of 50 and 70.

A rare type of squamous cell carcinoma is verrucous carcinoma. The tumor looks like a large wart, which progresses slow and rarely spreads to other organs. Usually this type of cancer is treated with surgery.

II. Adenocarcinomas is more rare than squamous cell carcinoma, and it represents 4 to 10 percent of all vaginal cancers. This type of cancer starts in the gland cells (adenocarcinoma cells) within the lining of the vagina.

Adenocarcinomas are harder to diagnose than the squamous cell carcinoma, because it is more likely to be hidden inside the vaginal canal. It occurs in women over 50.

There are four types of adenocarcinoma:

 

1. Clear cell adenocarcinoma is a rare type of adenocarcinoma which occurs in young women whose mothers received diethylstilbestrol (DES) when they were pregnant. Diethylstilbestrol is a drug used between the 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriages. The tumors look like polyps.

2. Papillary adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that develops within the connective tissues that surround the vagina.

3. Mucinous adenorcarcinoma. The main distinctive feature of the cancerous cells, when examined under microscope, is a pool of mucus that surrounds the cell.

4. Adenousquamous carcinoma is a rare type of cancer characterized by a combination of squamous cells and gland cells. It represent 1 to 2 percent of all vaginal cancers. Unfortunately, adenousquamous carcinoma tumors grow fast.

III. Malignant melanoma is a rare type of vaginal cancer, and it represents around 2 percent of all vaginal cancers. This cancer develops within the skin cells that produce pigment (it gives the skin its color). Melanoma is more common in women around the age of 50, but there are cases of younger (even around the age of 22) or older (83 years old) women diagnosed with this cancer. Melanoma develops within the lower part of the vagina.

IV. Sarcomas, in general, are a type of cancer that develops within the connective tissues that form the body structure (such as bone, fat, muscle, and cartilage). Sarcoma, as a vaginal cancer, is a rare form of cancer that develops deep within the vaginal walls. It accounts for 3 percent of all vaginal cancers. This type of cancer develops and grows fast. There are three types of vaginal sarcomas:

  1. Leiomyosarcoma is the most common type of vaginal sarcoma that affects women older than 50. It is a muscular tumor, because it occurs within the involuntary muscle cells of the vaginal walls.

  2. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a form of cancer that affects children. It is usually diagnosed in girls younger than 3 years old. This type of cancer develops within the voluntary muscle cells of the vaginal walls (a type of tissue not normally found in the vagina walls).

  3. Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (or sarcoma botryoides) is a rare form of vaginal sarcoma. It is also an aggressive form of cancer that does not respond very good to treatment. This type of cancer only affects girls younger than 6 years old. The tumors look like soft nodules that fill the vagina and sometimes they show outside the vagina.

V. Small cell vaginal cancer (also called oat cell carcinoma) is an extremely rare form of vaginal cancer. The cancerous cells, when examined under microscope, have a distinctive oat shape. Worldwide, up to this moment, there were reported only 20 cases of small cell vaginal cancer.

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See Also:
Vaginal Cancer: Introduction & Pictures
Vaginal Cancer: Types
Vaginal Cancer: Causes & Risk Factors
Vaginal Cancer: Signs & Symptoms
Vaginal Cancer: Stages
Vaginal Cancer: Medical Tests & Diagnosis
Vaginal Cancer: Treatment Options
Vaginal Cancer: Prevention Tips
Cancer Search Engine

Article by Alina Morrow, MS
Medical Writer
OmniMedicalSearch.com

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Page Last Modified:
10/18/2010