Vaginal cancer is cancer of the vagina, a female reproductive organ.
Most vaginal cancers occur when another cancer, such as cervical or endometrial cancer, spreads. This is called secondary vaginal cancer.
Cancer that starts in the vagina is called primary vaginal cancer. This type of cancer is rare. Most primary vaginal cancers start in skin-like cells called squamous cells. This cancer is known as squamous cell carcinoma.
The other types include:
The cause of squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina is unknown. But a history of cervical cancer is common in women with squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina. So it may be associated with human papilloma virus (HPV) infection.
Most women with squamous cell cancer of the vagina are over 50.
Adenocarcinoma of the vagina usually affects younger women. The average age at which this cancer is diagnosed is 19. Women whose mothers took the medicine diethylstilbestrol (DES) to prevent miscarriages during the first 3 months of pregnancy are more likely to develop vaginal adenocarcinoma.
Sarcoma of the vagina is a rare cancer that mainly occurs in infancy and early childhood.