Vaginal Cancer Risk Factors


Vaginal cancer risk factors for both cervical and vaginal cancers, is High Risk HPV. The cells lining the vagina are slower growing than cervical cells and therefore take longer to develop abnormalities. It is estimated that the time required to develop cervical cancer after HPV infection may be as long as 10-15 years, with vaginal cancer requiring much longer.

Most HR-HPV related vaginal tumors are of the squamous cell type, meaning that the cancer occurs in the surface tissue.


These tumors are primarily seen in women whose mothers were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) while pregnant. DES was most commonly used in the 1970s and 80s to attempt to prevent miscarriages but were ineffective and phased out. Adenocarcinomas can arise in the vagina, cervix and other genital structures and may occur much earlier in life than the more common squamous cell variety.

If your mother was exposed to DES while carrying you, you may be at increased risk of developing this type of tumor. Consultation with your doctor is recommended.

Learn how vagincal cancer is diagnosed