What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Vagina?Vaginal squamous cell carcinoma is an invasive cancer of the squamous cells that line the walls of the vagina. Squamous cells are a type of body cells that are thin and flat, present on the skin and lining the hollow organs of the body, such as the airway and vagina. Squamous cell carcinoma spreads slowly, mostly remaining confined to the vagina, but can invade the deep muscle layer of the vagina. In very rare cases, it spreads to the lungs, liver, and bones.
What is the Vagina?The vagina is part of the female reproductive system and is shaped like a hollow tube that is made of muscles and connects the external genitals to the uterus. It is also called the birth canal.
Disease EpidemiologyIt makes approximately 85% of vaginal cancers. It mainly affects women in the menopausal age.
Disease EtiologyThe reason is unknown. However, old age with current or previous human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, 1st sexual intercourse at a very younger age, smoking, and consumption of diethylstilbestrol (DES) are risk factors.
Signs and SymptomsThe patient may suffer from the following signs and symptoms. These are
- Usually, vaginal squamous cell carcinoma does not cause any signs or symptoms, especially in the initial stages.
- It usually on routine pelvic examination or pap smear test
- Lower abdominal pain
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting not related to menstrual periods i.e. vaginal bleeding between two menstrual cycles
- Pain while sexual intercourse
- Pain at the pelvic area
- Pain while passing urine
DiagnosisThe diagnosis can be made by a careful history taking, complete physical and pelvic examination. Below are the tests and procedures used to make the diagnosis. These are
- Pap smear test
- Colposcopy ( an instrument through which a physician can visualize the vagina, cervix, and uterus)
- Tumour biopsy
- Radiological techniques like CT scan, MRI, USG, and X-ray also recommended locating the size and site of the tumour.
TreatmentTreatment depends upon the size, site, stage, and extent of the tumour
- The main treatment options are widespread local surgical removal of the tumour, vaginectomy (surgical removal of the entire part of the vagina along with some healthy tissue), chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.