There are two main types of vaginal cancer: those that start in the vagina itself (primary vaginal cancer) and those that spread into the vagina from another part of the body (secondary vaginal cancer). This information is about primary vaginal cancer.
Primary vaginal cancer
There are two main types of primary vaginal cancers. They are named after the cells from which they develop:
- Squamous cell. The most common type of vaginal cancer is called squamous cell carcinoma, which means the cancer originated from the skin cells. This is usually found in the upper part of the vagina, and most commonly affects women between the ages of 50 and 70.
- Adenocarcinoma. This type of vaginal cancer begins in the glandular cells in the lining of the vagina. It usually affects women under 20, but occasionally occurs in other age groups.
Other very rare types of vaginal cancer include melanoma, small cell carcinoma, sarcoma, and lymphoma.
Metastatic vaginal cancer
Metastatic cancer in the vagina (those that have spread from other parts of the body) are more common than primary vaginal cancer. They usually spread from the cervix, the lining of the womb (the endometrium), the vulva, or nearby organs such as the bladder or bowel.