Vulvar and Vaginal Cancers

The vulvar and vaginal cancers are rare and involve abnormal cell growth in the vagina and opening for urination, including the clitoris and labia. 

Types of Vulvar and Vaginal Cancers

  • Squamous cell carcinoma — begins in the cells that line the vagina
  • Adenocarcinoma — begins in cells that make mucus and other fluids

Additional Cancer Types

  • Melanoma
  • Sarcoma


Precancerous Conditions

  • Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN)
  • Vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN)


Risk Factors

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Age
  • DES – drug to prevent miscarriage
  • Vaginal adenosis
  • Cervical cancer
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • HIV
  • Vaginal irritation
  • Other vulvar disorders
  • Melanoma or unusual moles
  • Family history of melanoma


Vaginal Cancer Symptoms

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding
  • Blood in the stool or urine
  • More frequent urination
  • Feeling constipated
  • Pelvic pain, especially after urination or intercourse


Vulvar Cancer Symptoms

  • Itching, burning or bleeding on the vulva that does not go away
  • Changes in skin color of the vulva — looking abnormally red or white
  • Skin changes in the vulva, including what appears to be a rash or warts
  • Sores, lumps or ulcers on the vulva that do not heal
  • Pelvic pain, especially after urination or intercourse



  • Physical exam
  • Colposcopy
  • Biopsy
  • Imaging
    • X-ray
    • Computerized tomography (CT scan)
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Positron emission tomography (PET scan)

Treatments for Vulvar and Vaginal Cancers

Clinical Trials

Patients have the unique opportunity to participate in clinical trials that involve medications as well as gene and cell therapy often unavailable outside of research settings. Learn more >

Choose a Doctor at One of Our Locations

Clear Filter
Pick a specialty.