Vaginal cancer

Vaginal cancer is cancer that starts in the vagina. It is rare but more common in older women.

The vagina is the passage between the uterus and the external female genitals. Cancer that develops in the vagina is vaginal cancer. There are around 240 new cases of vaginal cancer per year in the UK. Vaginal cancer is most frequent in women aged between 80-84. If cancer develops outside the vagina on the vulva, this is vulval cancer. Cancer that starts in the cervix (at the bottom of the womb) is cervical cancer. Cancer that starts in the womb is womb (uterus) cancer.

Symptoms of vaginal cancer

The most common symptoms of cancer of the vagina are:
  • vaginal bleeding after the menopause
  • a blood stained or smelly vaginal discharge
  • a lump or pain in your vagina that doesn’t go away
  • bleeding after or during sex
  • bleeding between periods
  • difficulty passing urine or pain or frequency when passing urine
  • pain or difficulty with sexual intercourse

There are many other causes of these symptoms - they're not just related to vaginal cancer. However, it is important that you see your GP if you experience any changes. Talking about these things can be embarrassing, but it is important to speak to someone as soon as you can. That way, if you do get a diagnosis of cancer, treatment is more likely to be successful. Treatment of vaginal cancer includes radiotherapychemotherapy and surgery. At The Christie, the gynaecology team treat all gynaecological cancers including vaginal cancers. 

Last updated: March 2023