Vaginal Cancer Survival Rates
Prognosis And Life Expectancy Statistics

Chances of surviving Vaginal Cancer

Oncologist Determining Prognosis

Vaginal Cancer Survival Rates


How Accurate Are Cancer Statistics?
What Other Factors Affect My Survival Rate?
What Does Cancer Grading Mean?
5 Year Survival Rates By Stage (United States)
5 Year Survival Rates (United Kingdom)

Return To Main Article
Cancer of the Vagina Guide


If you have received a vaginal cancer diagnosis, the first thing a doctor will try to do is give you a prognosis. A prognosis or outlook refers to the statistical likelihood of you surviving the disease. As with any type of cancer, the outcome will depend on how advanced the cancer is (known as staging). The earlier the vaginal cancer stage, the better the prognosis. The American figures below list the 5 year survival rates for cancer of the vagina. The information is from the U.S. National Cancer Institute's SEER database and is based on women who were diagnosed with the disease between 1990 and 2004. The statistics refer to the amount of women still alive at the end of a period of 5 years. It must be noted that many go on to live much longer than 5 years and may even be cured. Some patients find this information useful, while others may not want to know.

How Accurate Are Cancer Statistics?

Statistics cannot predict what will happen to you personally. They are based on the outcome of a large number of people with the disease but cannot always predict what will happen in an individual case. Every woman's cancer is unique and her individual circumstances will affect her outcome. Her overall health, the quality of vaginal cancer treatment she receives and her response to treatment will all play a role. In fact doctors have a way of predicting how a woman will respond to therapy and it is called 'performance status' (PS). A woman's PS level will help predict her response to chemotherapy for example and her likely quality of life during and after treatment. There are different standard measurements for PS; the most commonly used is the ECOG Score which grades the patient from 1 to 4 as follows:

Performance Status Levels

PS 0: The patient displays no symptoms and is fully active.
PS 1: Symptoms have appeared and restrict the patient. Yet they can still carry out light housework and office work.
PS 2: Patient still capable of looking after themselves but needs to spend 50 percent of the waking day in bed.
PS 3: Patient only capable of limited self-care and needs to spend more than 50 percent of the waking day in bed.
PS 4: The patient is bed bound and completely disabled.
PS 5: Death.

What Other Factors Affect My Survival Rate?

Generally survival rates appear to be better for women with cancer limited to a third or less of the vagina. Tumors which have spread to the entire vagina tend to result in a poorer prognosis. Additionally women from poorer socioeconomic families have a worse survival rate than women from wealthier backgrounds. This may be related to healthcare access. Furthermore, women are more likely to survive vaginal cancer is they are aged under 60 when they are diagnosed, probably because younger women tend to be generally healthier and stronger. Those who show no or few symptoms of vaginal cancer when they are diagnosed are also likely to live longer, but this is probably because fewer symptoms indicate earlier stages of the disease. The type of cancer present is also an important factor. Vaginal melanoma, which is very rare, has a poor outcome with only about 15 to 20 percent of women diagnosed with it living beyond 5 years.

What Does Cancer Grading Mean?

Once doctors have diagnosed the presence of cancer (by biopsy) they will want to learn as much as possible about the type of tumor present as this will help determine the best course of cancer treatment and long-term outlook. To do this, they will give the cancer a histologic grade. Doctors use the letter 'G' and a number to identify how the tumor cells look under a microscope. The closer the tumor resembles healthy normal cells, the lower the grade (and the less dangerous it usually is).

Histologic Gradings

G1: Tumor cells look more like normal tissue cells (well differentiated).
G2: Tumor cells are a little different (moderately differentiated).
G3: Tumor cells barely resemble normal cells (poorly differentiated).
G4: Cells look nothing like normal cells (undifferentiated). These tend to be the fastest growing and more likely to spread.

5 Year Survival Rates By Stage (United States)

Stage 1
Cancer is limited to the vagina and 85 percent of cases are squamous cell carcinoma.
Survival Rate: 84 percent

Stage 2
Cancer has spread to surrounding tissue but has not reached the pelvis wall.
Survival Rate: 75 percent

Stage 3
Tumor has spread to regional lymph nodes.
Survival Rate: 57 percent

Stage 4
Cancer may have spread beyond the pelvis to regional or distant organs.
Survival Rate: 57 percent, same as stage 3.

Interesting: Read about the causes of vaginal cancer.

5 Year Survival Rates By Stage (United Kingdom)

These figures are published by the Cancer Research UK and have been drawn from a number of studies.

Stage 0
Benign vaginal disease, also called carcinoma in situ or vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN). VAIN is considered by many doctors to be a precancerous condition like endometrial hyperplasia. There are 3 types of VAIN (1 to 3).VAIN3 indicates the furthest progression to real cancer.
Survival Rate: 90 percent

Stage 1
Survival Rate: 70 percent

Stage 2
Survival Rate: 50 percent

Stage 3
Survival Rate: 40 percent. This differs considerably from American figures, although UK research studies can vary widely.

Stage 4
Survival Rate: Studies indicate between 13 and 21 percent. Again this is significantly different to American stats.

Clinical Trials

Research indicates that participating in cancer clinical trials may improve a person's prognosis. Scientists are not sure why this is but it may be because patients are monitored more closely during a trial. They are likely to have more scans and blood tests for example. Trials testing experimental treatments are more likely to be considered by patients with recurrent vaginal cancer.

Comparison of Gynecologic Cancers
Fallopian Tube Cancer Survival Rates
Vulva Cancer Survival Rates
Ovarian Cancer Survival Rates
Endometrial Cancer Survival Rates
Cervical Cancer Survival Rates
Breast Cancer Survival Rates

  Related Articles on Vaginal Cancer

For more information, see the following:

Vaginal Cancer Prevention
Main Causes Of Death In Women

Back To Homepage: Womens Health Advice

original content

Please Note: Information provided on this site is no substitute for professional medical help. See Disclaimer.
Copyright. All rights reserved.