Treatment for vaginal cancer typically involves surgery, radiation therapy and possibly chemotherapy. With surgery, some patients may need skin grafts and plastic surgery to make an artificial vagina. Some patients may need more than one type of treatment in combination.
At UCSF Medical Center, a team of cancer specialists and plastic surgeons work together to design the most effective treatment plan for your condition.
Surgery is the most common treatment for all stages of vaginal cancer. A doctor may remove the cancer using one of the following:
Radiation therapy uses X-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body, called external beam radiation therapy. Another form or radiation therapy, called internal radiation, works by placing materials that produce radiation, called radioisotopes, through thin plastic tubes into the area where the cancer cells are found.
Radiation may be used alone, in combination with chemotherapy, or after surgery.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be taken by pill, or it may be put into the body by a needle in a vein. Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drugs enter the bloodstream, travel through the body and can kill cancer cells outside the vagina.
Chemotherapy may be used in combination with radiation treatment, or alone.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.