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Researchers have identified several risk factors that can increase a woman’s chance of developing vaginal cancer. Even so, the exact cause of most vaginal cancers remains unclear. Extensive studies are under way to help scientists learn more about how these risk factors can cause healthy cells in the vagina to become cancerous.

Some known vaginal cancer risk factors include:

  • Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) as a fetus (women whose mothers took DES while pregnant with them)
  • Vaginal adenosis (a condition that causes healthy cells in the vagina to transform from squamous cells to glandular cells)
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • Cervical cancer or cervical precancerous conditions
  • Tobacco use
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Chronic vaginal irritation
  • Uterine prolapse

With that said, there are two key points that are important to note here: First, many women who have one or more of these risk factors never develop vaginal cancer, and second, some patients with vaginal cancer have no known risk factors. For individualized advice and guidance, women are encouraged to discuss their risk factors with a physician.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we offer the latest techniques for detecting vaginal cancer in women who are at risk for the condition but do not have any symptoms. In general, we recommend an annual pelvic examination for all women, as well as HPV testing for women over age 30. Our multispecialty team of experts has helped many women detect and address their cancer in early stages, when there are more treatment options available. We also offer a full range of advanced treatment techniques, including promising clinical trials.

If you’d like to learn more about vaginal cancer risk factors, the experts at Moffitt can provide more detailed information and create an individualized risk profile for you. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. We see patients with and without referrals.


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