It’s a risk for women that increase with age. Dr. Samith Sandadi, a gynecologic oncologist on the Lee Health medical staff, says about one in 100,000 women may be diagnosed with vaginal cancer. “What we mainly rely on is symptoms. The most common symptoms that usually effect older women, is vaginal bleeding.”
Because vaginal cancer is one of the rarer forms of gynecologic cancers, doctors say unfortunately there’s no screening for it. But in some cases, doctors may be able to detect the cancer before symptoms begin. “If someone has had a history of cervical cancer or if someone has had a hysterectomy and at that time they had abnormal pap smears then yes, we can pick up some of these abnormal cells on a vaginal smear,” said Dr. Sandadi.
Doctors say early detection is critical. There are two treatment options for vaginal cancer. If it’s caught early, patients may undergo surgery to remove the cancer. “However, if it’s a little more advanced and it’s a stage two then we probably rely on radiation therapy and chemotherapy,” said Dr. Sandadi.
The most common cause for vaginal cancer is the HPV virus. “Recent statistics have shown that 80 percent of women have this virus but most women clear it. But in some women who are immune compromised or they have a persistent HPV virus that’s what usually causes vaginal cancer,” said Dr. Sandadi.
Doctors say embarrassment and confusion can cause patients to ignore their symptoms. But it’s important if a woman experiences any irregular bleeding to make an appointment with her physician.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.