Vaginal Cancer Stages is the process that determines the extent to which the cancer has spread in the patient's body. Vaginal cancer tends to go unnoticed in its initial stages, more so because it doesn't provide any strong indication. However, if symptoms like abnormal vaginal bleeding, swelling or pain occur in a woman she should immediately consult a doctor and get checked upon. This is important as this would pave the way for early treatment. A cancer might be benign which is still in the early stages when diagnosed and is curable or malignant that has already reached an advanced stage and begun affecting other body parts.
Malignant cancer could also prove fatal. It's important on the part of the patient not to ignore the symptoms and fix an appointment with the concerned physician immediately. The physician needs to be sure about the location, extent, size of the vaginal cancer in order to start further medication. The process of arriving at the conclusion as to the status of the cancer is known as staging. The doctor may ask the patient to undergo few tests as part of staging. The following tests are conducted to establish the staging in a patient suffering from vaginal cancer:
CT scan: Images of the affected area are captured in this scan. These pictures taken from different angle help the physician to determine the location, size etc of the cancer in the vagina
Lymphangiogram: This type of test is done to check if the vaginal cancerous cells have spread and begun to affect body parts like lymph nodes. In this procedure x ray is taken of the affected area after having injected a dye into the patient's lymph vessels. This dye then travels through lymph vessels and lymph nodes and x-ray is taken to check if there are any blockages
Biopsy: The purpose behind biopsy test is to check if cancer has started affecting the cervix area. A small tissue is taken from the cervix and examined under a microscope for any possible presence of cancerous cells
Ureteroscopy: This test is done with an instrument called ureteroscope which is fitted with light and lens that can enable the physician to view inside the uterus of a woman for any abnormal signs
MRI: MRI scan takes detailed images of inside the body using radio waves or magnet which is viewed on the computer
Cystoscopy: This test is done to check for any possible presence of cancerous cells in the urethra or bladder. A thin instrument with lens and light is sent inside to find out if something has been wrong
Proctoscopy: This a type test that is done to check for any spread of vaginal cancerous cells in the rectum
Chest X-Ray: X-ray uses high energy beam to see and capture images of the chest. It is done to find out if the cancer has spread to the chest of the patient
The above mentioned tests help a doctor arrive at the size, location, how far the cancer has spread etc and accordingly staging is done. The system through which staging is done is known as, TNM system which is an abbreviation for Tumor Node Metastasis. T in TNM refers to the size of the tumor, N refers to to the lymph nodes and M stands for metastasis, a situation where the cancer has grown beyond the point of origin and spread to other body parts
Staging of Vaginal cancer is as given below:
These are the staging that is involved in arriving at the conclusion as to the status of the patient. Once staging is over the findings lead to the path for best suited treatment as by that time the factors like extent, location, size and status of cancer are almost clear. However, even if two women were suffering from vaginal cancer, their treatment would differ depending upon individual conditions and stage of cancer.