Causes Of Vaginal Cancer
Risk Factors Discussed

Vaginal Cancer

HPV Vaccine
HPV Vaccine
HPV Is The Leading Cause Of Vaginal Cancer.

Causes Of Vaginal Cancer

Contents

What Causes Vaginal Cancer?
Fluid Collection
Age Of The Woman
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
DES (Diethylstilbestrol)
Other Potential Causes


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Guide To Cancer of the Vagina

What Causes Vaginal Cancer?

Scientists have not identified the cause of true primary vaginal cancer, specifically they do not know what causes squamous cell carcinoma (the most common type). As the disease is relatively rare, studies on possible causes are limited. However a number of risk factors have been identified. A risk factor is something that increases a person's chance of developing a disease. So although it does not cause the disease, it increases the chance of it occurring. Risk factors associated with cancer of the vagina include age and exposure to HPV infections and diethylstilbestrol (DES). Cancer causes are generally multi-factorial, which means that more than one factor is usually involved. Those factors can include genes, lifestyle habits, smoking, obesity, alcohol and environmental toxins (carcinogens). The more factors a person is exposed to, the higher the risk of cancer.

Fluid Collection

Scientists suspect that a collection of fluid in the upper vaginal area can cause irritation which eventually leads to cancer.

Age Of The Woman

Women younger than 30 and aged over 60 are more prone to developing the disease. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the average age of patients diagnosed with invasive vagina cancer is 68, while the precancer early stage in situ (VAIN) occurs on average at the age of 58. See vaginal cancer stages for an explanation of these stages. The rates of VAIN peak at 70 and then decline - whereas the rate of invasive vaginal cancer continues to increase with advancing age. Like cervical cancer, more black and Hispanic women develop vaginal cancer than any other race or ethnicity. According to the same CDC study the incidence rate is 72 percent higher among black women than white women and 34 percent lower among Asian women. Hispanic women have a 39 percent more increased chance than white women of developing the disease.

Know The Signs: See symptoms of vaginal cancer.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

According to the CDC, HPV is thought to be responsible for about 40 percent of all cases of vaginal cancers and 95 percent of all cervical cancers. There are an estimated 600 new cases of HPV associated vaginal cancers diagnosed every year in the U.S. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and nearly 75 percent of women who receive a vaginal cancer diagnosis have been infected with HPV at some time in their life. There are over 150 different types of HPV but HPV-16 and -18 in particular are linked to vaginal cancer. Some viruses affect the genital area while others affect the throat and mouth. HPV occurs in both men and women and most people will never know they have it. One study estimated that 33 percent of American college women were infected. Usually HPV clears naturally from the body within 2 years of infection. In some cases however, and scientists do not know why, DNA of the virus remains in the cells of the vagina, vulva and cervix and this can lead to precancerous changes such as VAIN. Research shows that HPV 16 and 18 produce proteins which may interfere with healthy cells' natural ability to make tumor suppressor genetic materials. Those suppressors are supposed to stop cells growing too rapidly and turning cancerous. See vaginal cancer prevention for more details on HPV and possible vaccines.

DES (Diethylstilbestrol)

DES was a drug given to some women between the 1940s and 1960s to prevent miscarriage. It was banned in the early 1970s when researchers discovered it caused vaginal cancer in some children of those who took the drug. In particular it causes clear cell adenocarcinoma, a rare form of the cancer which occurs typically in girls between the ages of 17 and 21.

Other Potential Causes

Other Gynecologic Cancers: A history of VAIN or cervix cancer - either in the woman herself or close family.
Smoking: Tobacco smoke has been linked to the disease.
Cancer Treatments: Having radiation therapy to the pelvic region maybe one cause, although this is a rare complication.
Injuries: Women with a past history of trauma to the vagina.
STDs: Previous STD infections including HPV, vaginal warts and syphilis.
Vaginitis: Frequent occurrences of vaginitis may cause irritation to the vaginal cells causing VAIN. See vaginitis prevention.
Pessaries: The use of vaginal pessaries to prevent uterine prolapse (the uterus falling into the vagina) are another suggested cause. These pessaries are plastic doughnut-shaped devices which fits under or around the cervix helping to keep the womb in place. The pessary needs to be inserted by a doctor or nurse and cleaned frequently.

Ever Heard Of Cancerphobia?

Cancerphobia is an intense fear of developing cancer - but out of proportion to the actual risk. This fear can significantly disrupt the life of a person who becomes convinced that every headache, skin problem or bout of constipation is a symptom of cancer. Patterns of behavior are in fact similar to someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder and may include compulsively washing their hands to reduce their overall risk of cancer. As with any phobia, behavior therapy or psychotherapy may benefit sufferers. Very often cancerphobia is more common to people who have cared for and lost a close relative to cancer. Anecdotal evidence suggests that more people are beginning to suffer this phobia. This may well be because of an increased awareness of symptoms in the media.

  Related Articles on Vaginal Cancer

For more guidelines, see the following:

Vaginal Cancer Treatment
Recurrent Vaginal Cancer
Vaginal Cancer Survival Rates

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WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT VAGINAL CANCER
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