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Vaginal Cancer Treatment and Support

The Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center team of gynecologic cancer experts create customized treatment plans using leading technology to meet the individual needs of each patient. Along with our expert care, we treat you with compassion and attention to your needs.

How is vaginal cancer treated?

Your multidisciplinary cancer care team will talk to you about the various options available for treating vaginal cancer that might be good choices, based on your cancer stage, overall health, whether you want to have children and other factors. Sometimes, you’ll use a combination of treatments to get the best results.


Surgery is often part of the treatment for vaginal cancer. Surgeons can remove:

  • The cancerous area and a small amount of healthy tissue surrounding it, called a wide local excision.
  • Some or all of the vagina, called a vaginectomy. The vagina can be reconstructed with skin grafts from elsewhere in the body.
  • The uterus and cervix, called a hysterectomy.
  • Lymph nodes, to check for signs of cancer spread.
  • The vagina, cervix, ovaries, bladder, rectum and lower colon, called a pelvic exenteration. With this type of surgery, you’ll have an opening in your abdomen so you can pass urine and stool.

Radiation therapy

Radiation uses X-rays or particles to stop cancer cells from growing or to kill them. Banner MD Anderson doctors use new radiation therapy techniques to target cancerous cells precisely, minimizing damage to healthy cells. There are two main types of radiation therapy:

  • External radiation uses a machine to target radiation toward the cancerous parts of the body.
  • Internal radiation places a radioactive substance at the cancer site inside the body.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to fight cancer. You can take chemotherapy medication by mouth or injection, and it can fight cancer throughout your body.

There are many options for chemotherapy medications, and your treatment team will recommend drugs, dosages and treatment schedules that are best for you. They may consider your cancer type, the size of your tumor, your age and weight, and any previous cancer treatments you’ve had.

For squamous cell vaginal cancer, you might be able to apply a chemotherapy cream or lotion to the vagina. This treatment isn’t used for invasive vaginal cancer where the cancer may be larger and has spread into nearby tissues.

Targeted therapies

Targeted therapies are innovative treatments designed specifically to target the genetic and molecular profile of your individual cancer. They fight the disease and minimize damage to healthy cells.

Immunotherapies, a type of targeted therapy, fight cancer by teaching your own immune system to recognize cancerous cells as harmful and destroying them.

Clinical trials

You may want to consider participating in a clinical trial as part of your care for vaginal cancer. These trials evaluate whether new treatments are safe, effective and better than current options.

Many of the doctors who treat cancer at Banner MD Anderson are dedicated researchers who have pioneered and actively lead national and international clinical trials. Your doctor can help you find any clinical trials that might be right for you and help you decide whether you would like to proceed.

Treatment decisions

It’s crucial to discuss all treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your treatment team. That way, you can make the decision that best fits your needs. You may feel that you need to make a decision quickly. Still, it’s essential to give yourself time to absorb the information you have learned and ask your multidisciplinary cancer care team at Banner MD Anderson any questions you may have. We are here to treat your cancer and support you through this difficult time.

Support during vaginal cancer treatment

Having cancer can be an uncertain time, and support can help you navigate the difficulties you may face. Banner MD Anderson offers psychological help with cancer from specially trained practitioners, rehabilitation and a supportive survivorship program. Learn more about our comprehensive and supportive cancer care.

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