Primary cancer of the vagina is extremely rare. Most cancers of the vagina are metastatic lesions that spread to the vagina from another area of the body.
Types of Vaginal Cancer
When cancer does arise in the vagina, it is almost always squamous cell cancer (occurring in the uppermost layer of tissue). The primary exception is in women whose mothers were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) while still pregnant. These women may develop vaginal adenocarcinomas (occurring in deeper tissue).
Vaginal and cervical cancers share common risk factors and symptoms. Women with a history of cervical dysplasia are at increased risk for vaginal cancer, even if they have undergone a hysterectomy.