Vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer
If you have vaginal cancer or vulvar cancer, having a gynecologic oncologist leading your team ensures you receive the best care available. Our gynecologic oncologists in Durham and Raleigh work with women with gynecologic cancers every day. We use our training and experience to tailor chemotherapy, radiation and surgical treatments, including laser surgery, to minimize cancer’s impact on your fertility and sexuality. If surgery is needed, we have the training and experience to perform complex procedures on the reproductive system.
If you have been diagnosed with the type of HPV that increases your risk for vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer, or your Pap test results suggest vaginal cancerous cells, we work closely with you to look for suspicious cell changes. That ensures treatment starts at the earliest possible stage. Our overarching goal is to detect vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer early, tailor your treatment, and increase your chances for a positive and long-term outcome.
Choose Duke for your vaginal cancer or vulvar cancer treatment because we offer:
- Nationally ranked cancer program. We are consistently ranked among the best cancer programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, our gynecologic cancer team is recognized for exploring new therapies through ongoing clinical trials. We are also part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving care for our patients.
- Access to our clinical trials. You may be eligible to participate in our ongoing clinical trials, which explore new therapies including chemotherapy drugs that slow or kill cancer cells, immunotherapy drugs that boost your body’s ability to fight cancer, and biologic therapies that block the systems that allow cancer to grow in your body.
- Female reproductive cancer specialists. Studies show significant survival benefits exist when women with vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer are cared for by gynecologic oncologists, who are an important part of your care team at Duke.
- Surgeons trained in female reconstruction. Our experts undergo advanced training in female reproductive plastic surgery, After removing vaginal cancer or vulvar cancer, plastic surgery may be be necessary to rebuild the vagina.
- Fertility services for cancer survivors. If you are concerned about the impact of chemotherapy and/or radiation on your fertility, experts at the Duke Fertility Center work closely with you to discuss fertility preservation treatments, which may include egg freezing, tissue banking, and experimental options that are available through our ongoing clinical trials.
- Convenient appointments. We schedule your appointments quickly, coordinate your schedule with your care team, and work with you to develop the best treatment plan.
- Comfortable surroundings. Duke Cancer Center features spacious waiting areas, a Quiet Room, large infusion rooms, and a rooftop garden area where patients — based on their treatment regimen — can receive chemotherapy outdoors.
- Support for your whole being. Our comprehensive cancer support services range from helping patients minimize the side effects of treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. Our breast cancer survivorship clinic also pulls together a range of resources specially designed to help survivors after treatment ends. View all of our gynecologic cancer support groups in our event calendar.
VAGINAL CANCER AND VULVAR CANCER
Treatment for vaginal cancer varies depending on the type, size, stage, and location of the cancer. Surgery is the most common treatment for vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer.
Small, early stage cancers can be removed surgically, along with surrounding healthy tissue for precaution.
- Laser surgery. Burns off vaginal or vulvar precancerous cells.
- Vulvectomy/Vaginectomy. Surgically removes all or part of the vulva or vagina. Healthy tissue is preserved, when possible, to maintain fertility.
- Reconstructive surgery. Rebuilds the vaginal area with tissue taken from other parts of your body. Allows you to maintain sexual activity.
Kills or slows growth of cancer growth. Often combined with radiation therapy.
External beams deliver radiation to areas affected by your vaginal cancer or vulvar cancer. We also use internal radiation, such as brachytherapy, by placing radiation capsules or seeds inside the body on or near cancer site to kill tumor cells.
VAGINAL CANCER AND VULVAR CANCER
Performed during a pelvic exam. Looks for abnormal cells or growths that exist in the vagina and the vulvar areas.
A colposcope is inserted in your vagina to magnify the view and see abnormal cells.
Vaginal and vulvar tissue is removed during a colposcopy exam to be tested for the presence of cancer cells.
X-rays, CT, MRI and PET (positron emission tomography) scans create high-quality images to see if cancer has spread.
An endoscope inserted into the rectum allows doctors to look at the rectum and colon to see if cancer has spread. A biopsy may be part of this procedure.
An endoscope is inserted into the bladder through the urethra to see if cancer has spread. A biopsy may be part of the procedure.
A biopsy is performed in the lymph nodes to see if cancer has spread.