Diagnosing Vaginal Cancer

Your doctor may use one of several techniques to test for vaginal cancer, such as:

  • Biopsy—a small piece of tissue from the suspicious area is removed by your doctor for a pathologist to analyze under a microscope for the presence of cancer or precancerous cells
  • Colposcopy (vaginoscopy)—performed like a regular pelvic exam with the colposcope remaining outside to examine the walls of the vagina and surface of the cervix with magnifying lenses. If there are irregularities, you will need a biopsy to analyze the tissue
  • Cystoscopy—one type of endoscopy, is used to examine large vaginal tumors located near the bladder. A thin tube with a lens and light are inserted to see if vaginal cancer spread to the bladder; may be followed by a biopsy

Stages of Vaginal Cancer

To create your personalized treatment plan, as part of your diagnosis, your gynecologic oncologist stage your vaginal cancer based on size of the tumor and if and how much it has spread.  

  • Stage I: The tumor is only in the vagina
  • Stage II: The tumor spread through the vaginal wall
  • Stage III: Cancer spread to the lymph nodes in the pelvis or to the pelvic wall
  • Stage IVA: Cancer spread to the bladder, rectum, or beyond the pelvis and possibly the lymph nodes 
  • Stage IVB: Cancer spread to another part of the body

Ask your gynecologic oncologist about your best possible outcomes for your vaginal cancer.

Knowledge is empowering. Learn about your treatment options.