Vaginal Cancer Recurrence

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Vaginal cancer recurrence could be very traumatic for the patient. As being diagnosed with vaginal cancer is a rather painful experience. A recurrence would only make life worse for the concerned patient. However, if it does, patience is the name of the game and the patient should face the challenge bravely. Vaginal cancer might recur at the same place as the first time or it might as well develop in other areas of the body like lymph nodes or cervix. Recurrence at the original place is known as localized and at some other place away from the origin is known as metastasis.

Localized tumor is considered to be curable and enhances the prognosis of the patient. However, metastasis tumor could prove dangerous for the patient as metastasis is an advanced state of tumor and if neglected could prove fatal. Hence, a recently diagnosed woman stands a higher chance of having better prognosis than the one who has had cancerous cells spread to other areas of the body. A study reports that, only five out of every fifty women diagnosed with vaginal cancer could be salvaged through surgery. On most occasions such women are generally suffering from a benign cancer. It is found that most of the recurrences happen after two years of having undergone a vaginal cancer surgery. Vaginal cancer recurrence could be classified as below:

  • Local Recurrence: A local recurrence is often believed to be curable with better survival chances. Nevertheless, if a recurrence takes place that doesn't necessarily mean that the treatment provided in the first phase was not good or there was any deficiency in the treatment. However, localized recurrence should be less worrisome for the patient as it can be controlled and cured. It could literally mean, that a patient with local recurrence of vaginal cancer or whose cancer has been diagnosed in its early stages has higher chances of long term survival

  • Distant Recurrence: Distant recurrence is when the cancer has come back after the surgery but not at the original place but in some distant area in the body. It's also known as metastasis. Metastasis is when the cancerous cells have grown and have spread beyond its point of origin. It could also prove more dangerous for the patient. A metastasis might as well be curable but only if too little of the cancerous cells have spread to other areas of the body. In other words a heavy spread would do more damage and that is what could prove costly for the patient. In case of a small spread the cancer could as well be removed or destroyed completely.

Various treatment options available for recurrent vaginal cancer could be as given below:

  1. Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy kills off the cancerous cells using high energy x-ray beams. This high energy ray is aimed at the cancerous cells inside the vagina. Radiation therapy can be applied both before and after having been gone through the surgery

  2. Pelvic Exenteration: Pelvic exenteration is made use of if and when the vaginal cancer reoccurrence takes place. Usually, radiation therapy is what is applied to cure the cancer. However, if that doesn't prove enough, pelvic exenteration might be the order of the day. It's a type of operation that combines lymphadenectomy, vaginectomy etc in order to remove the vaginal cancer

One might not have control over whether she would be a victim of vaginal cancer recurrence. Even one cannot be sure that she has been fully cured after first surgery as recurrence usually takes place within the two years post vaginal cancer surgery. However, treatment would differ according to the stage, size, and location of the tumor in the vagina of a woman. The first diagnosis itself is traumatic for any woman; no woman would like a recurrence to happen to her. But if it does they should not lose heart and take appropriate steps to recovery in consultation with the doctor.

The patient who had earlier been operated upon should follow the schedule as prescribed by the doctor and get regularly checked upon even after the treatment for any possible recurrence. The patient should try and keep herself abreast with any new advancement taking place in the field of vaginal cancer treatment and also be educated and understand the disease better. While nothing is within our reach, it is wrong to think of the worst when it has yet not happened. A woman should not lose hope even when she has been diagnosed with the disease, instead she must be determined to fight it.

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