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Vaginal cancer

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Treatment of stage I vaginal carcinoma

The following are treatment options for stage I vaginal carcinoma. The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the person with cancer. Treatment is the same for stage I squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.


Surgery may be offered for stage I vaginal carcinoma. Surgery may include:

  • radical vaginectomy and lymphadenectomy with or without vaginal reconstruction
    • removal of pelvic lymph nodes for tumours in the upper part of the vagina
    • removal of groin lymph nodes for tumours in the lower part of the vagina
  • wide local excision may be done to remove a small stage I tumour, especially if the tumour is located in the lower part of the vagina

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy may be offered for stage I vaginal carcinoma. Radiation therapy may be given:

  • as the primary treatment
  • as intracavitaryintracavitaryA type of radiation therapy that uses implants (needles, catheters, wires or seeds) to deliver radiation directly into or near a tumour. brachytherapy – usually given for 5 to 7 days
  • as external beam radiation therapy – used for larger tumours
  • to the lymph nodes in the pelvis and groin if the tumour is in the lower part of the vagina
  • as adjuvant therapyadjuvant therapyTreatment given in addition to the first-line therapy (the first or standard treatment) to help reduce the risk of a disease (such as cancer) coming back (recurring). following surgery when surgical margins are close or have cancer cells present

Clinical trials

Women with vaginal carcinoma may be offered the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. For more information, go to clinical trials.


Canadian Cancer Trials Group researcher Dr Wendy Parulekar The Canadian Cancer Trials Group found that extending hormone therapy keeps breast cancer at bay.

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