Vaginal cancer

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Treatments for melanoma of the vagina

The following are treatment options for melanoma of the vagina. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Surgery

You may be offered surgery for melanoma of the vagina. The type of surgery is based on the size and location of the tumour.

Wide local excision removes the cancer and a small amount of normal tissue at the edges. The normal, healthy tissue is called the margin.

Radical vaginectomy removes the entire vagina and some tissue from around the vagina.

Lymph node dissection removes lymph nodes in the pelvis and groin to check if the cancer has spread.

Chemotherapy

You may be offered chemotherapy for melanoma of the vagina. Chemotherapy drugs that are used to treat melanoma include:

  • dacarbazine (DTIC)
  • temozolomide (Temodol)
  • paclitaxel (Taxol)
  • carmustine (also known as BCNU)
  • cisplatin (Platinol AQ)
  • carboplatin (Paraplatin, Paraplatin AQ)
  • vinblastine (Velbe)

Radiation therapy

You may be offered radiation therapy for melanoma of the vagina. It may be given after surgery in the area where lymph nodes were removed, especially if there was cancer in the lymph nodes. It may be given after surgery to destroy cancer cells left behind and to reduce the risk of the cancer recurring. Radiation therapy may also be given to relieve symptoms of vaginal melanoma that has spread to other organs.

If you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment

You may want to consider a type of care to make you feel better without treating the cancer itself. This may be because the cancer treatments don’t work anymore, they’re not likely to improve your condition or they may cause side effects that are hard to cope with. There may also be other reasons why you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment.

Talk to your healthcare team. They can help you choose care and treatment for advanced cancer.

Clinical trials

Some clinical trials in Canada are open to women with melanoma of the vagina. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

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