Vaginal cancer is usually what we call a squamous cell cancer. This is a cancer of the cells that line the vagina. Vaginal cancer is one of the least common cancers we see in the gynecologic oncology department at UAMS. That is because it has to be unique to the vagina to be called vaginal cancer.
Risk Factors and Treatment Options
Vaginal cancer is often related to a viral infection like HPV, which we talk about with most gynecologic cancers. The typical person who would develop this is a woman who is 65 or older.
Innovative Radiation Therapy for Vaginal Cancer at UAMS
The treatment for vaginal cancer is typically radiation therapy. When you receive radiation, you’ll usually receive what we call “external beam,” which is like sitting on an x-ray table. It’s done once a day, five days a week, for four or five weeks.
After that, we may deliver radiation directly to the tumor through internal radiation therapy (also called brachytherapy). With internal radiation therapy, an implant delivers a much higher dose of radiation directly to the vagina. This is often curative.
The advantage of a place like UAMS is that we are well known for our internal radiation therapy. UAMS sees many patients with other types of cancers who receive their external beam elsewhere in the state but will see us for their internal radiation therapy.