Symptoms and Signs of Vaginal Cancer

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal cancer occurs when the cells of the surface of vagina start to grow abnormally. There are two main types of vaginal cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma forms in the thin, flat cells lining the vagina. Squamous cell vaginal cancer spreads slowly and usually stays near the vagina, but may spread to the lungs, liver, or bone. This is the most common type of vaginal cancer. Adenocarcinoma begins in glandular cell in the lining of the vagina make and release fluids such as mucus. Adenocarcinoma is more likely than squamous cell cancer to spread to the lungs and lymph nodes.

Vaginal cancer often does not cause early signs or symptoms. When they do occur, symptoms of vaginal cancer include bleeding or discharge not related to menstrual periods, pain during sexual intercourse, pelvic pain, a lump in the vagina, pain when urinating, and constipation.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.