Last reviewed October 2014
Based on the results of the diagnostic tests your doctor will tell you the stage of the vaginal cancer.
Staging the cancer is a way to describe the size of the cancer and whether it has spread beyond its original site.
Stage 1 - Cancer is found only in the vagina.
Stage 2 - Cancer has begun to spread through the wall of the vagina but it has not spread into the walls of the pelvis.
Stage 3 - Cancer has spread to the pelvis. It may also be in the lymph nodes close to the vagina.
Stage 4 - Cancer has spread beyond the vagina and surrounding area into the lining of the bladder or bowel. The cancer may also have spread to other parts of the body.
Your doctor may also tell you the grade of the cancer cells. This gives you an idea of how quickly the cancer may develop.
Grade 1 (low grade) - The cancer cells look fairly normal and behave similarly to healthy cells.
Grade 2 (moderate grade) - Look more abnormal and are growing a bit faster.
Grade 3 (high grade) - Look very abnormal and are growing more quickly.
Knowing the stage and grade of the cancer helps your medical team decide on the most appropriate treatment.
Prognosis means the expected outcome of a disease. You will need to discuss your prognosis and treatment options with your doctor but it is not possible for any doctor to predict the exact course of your disease.
The earlier vaginal cancer is diagnosed the better the chances of successful treatment and cure.
Test results, the type of vaginal cancer you have, the rate and depth of tumour growth, how well you respond to treatment and other factors such as age, fitness and medical history are all important in assessing your prognosis.
Information reviewed by: Prof Jonathan Carter, Head Gynaecologic Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Professor of Gynaecological Oncology, University of Sydney, and Head Gynaecologic Oncology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW; Ellen Barlow, Gynaecological Oncology Clinical Nurse Consultant, Gynaecological Cancer Centre, The Royal Hospital for Women, NSW; Jason Bonifacio, Practice Manager/ Chief Radiation Therapist, St Vincent’s Clinic, Radiation Oncology Associates and Genesis Cancer Care, NSW; Wendy Cram, Consumer; Kim Hobbs, Social Worker, Gynaecology Oncology, Westmead Hospital, and Chair COSA Social Work Group, NSW; Lyndal Moore, Consumer; Pauline Tanner, Cancer Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecological Cancer, WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network, WA.