Other GYN Cancers

Vulvar Cancer

Vulvar cancer is a type of cancer that occurs on the outer surface area of the female genitalia. The vulva is the area of skin that surrounds the urethra and vagina, including the clitoris and labia.  Vulvar cancer commonly forms as a lump or sore on the vulva that often causes itching. Though it can occur at any age, vulvar cancer is most commonly diagnosed in older women.

Vulvar cancer treatment usually involves surgery to remove the cancer and a small amount of surrounding healthy tissue. Sometimes vulvar cancer surgery requires removing the entire vulva. The earlier vulvar cancer is diagnosed, the less likely an extensive surgery is needed for treatment.

Signs and symptoms of vulvar cancer

  • Itching that does not go away
  • Pain and tenderness
  • Bleeding that is not from menstruation
  • Skin changes such as color changes or thickening
  • A lump or wart-like bumps or an open sore


Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal cancer is a rare cancer that occurs in your vagina, the muscular tube that connects your uterus with you outer genitals.  Vaginal cancer most commonly occurs in the cells that line the surface of your vagina.   While several types of cancer can spread to your vagina from other places in your body, cancer that begins in your vagina (primary vaginal cancer) is rare. Your treatment options for vaginal cancer depend on several factors, including the type of vaginal cancer you have and its stage. You and your doctor work together to determine what treatments are best for you based on your goals of treatmentwillingness to accept side effects. Treatment for vaginal cancer typically includes surgery and radiation.

Signs and symptoms of vaginal cancer

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Watery vaginal discharge
  • A lump or mass in your vagina
  • Painful Urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Pelvic pain


Recurrent Endometrial Cancer

Recurrent Endometrial Cancer is endometrial cancer that has recurred, either in the vagina (most common location) or elsewhere in the body. Patients who have recurrence in the vagina may be recommended external beam radiation and/or brachytherapy. Brachytherapy for recurrenct endometrial cancer can be performed using a interstitial (needles) or intracavitary (cylinder) approach, depending on the extent of tumor.

If interstitial brachytherapy is recommended for you cancer, hollow catheters are placed into the tumor or near the tumor as a way of giving a higher dose of radiation to that area while sparing or reducing radiation exposure to other organs .   These catheters will temporarily stay in the tumor during an inpatient hospital stay for a total of 4-5 radiation treatments. The needle catheters themselves are no radioactive, but instead used to deliver radiation 30-60 minutes per treatment visit. If your radiation oncology physician recommends only 2 treatments, this can be done on 2 separate visits with the interstitial catheters being removed after each procedure.

If intracavitary brachytherapy is recommended, a treatment device called a vaginal cylinder is utilized to deliver the treatment.  It is similar to a large tampon with a central channel.  The cylinder is placed into the vaginal area then connected to the HDR treatment machine via of a tube where the radioactive source is located.  Once the source has been connected, the radioactive source will travel quickly into the central channel of the cylinder to deliver a high dose of radiation to the top of the vagina. After completed, the vaginal cylinder is disconnected and removed from the patient. The number of treatments will be determined by your radiation oncologist, although it is usually 3-5 treatments total.

What to expect after treatment

  • General feeling of fatigue
  • Slight vaginal discharge or bleeding
  • Cramping
  • Discomfort at the implant site
  • Diarrhea

Although everyone is different, these side effects usually resolve within a few days following the treatment.