How do regular Pap tests help prevent vaginal cancer?

Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Vaginal cancer is usually seen in older/menopausal patients. The Pap test screens for cervical cancer but can be used to check a vaginal lesions, but I usually biopsy an abnormal vaginal lesion. Vaginal cancer and cervix cancer are 90% of the time caused by HPV and arise as well as spread in a similar manner. 

The current recommendations are for women to get Pap tests and pelvic exams every two to three years to screen for vaginal cancer and other gynecological cancers and conditions. Your doctor will probably recommend more frequent testing if you have had abnormal Pap tests or pelvic exams in the past. These tests make it much more likely that you'll catch a cancer like vaginal cancer early on.

Continue Learning about Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal Cancer

Although less common than other types of gynecologic cancers, vaginal cancer can be very deadly once it spreads to other parts of the body.Several types of vaginal cancer exist, with the most common being squamous cell carcinoma, ...

which typically develops in the upper region of the vagina. Less than 3% of gynecologic cancers begin in the vagina, although several other cancer types commonly spread to this area. It is unknown what causes vaginal cancer, but several factors increase your risk to develop the disease. If youre over the age of 60, have the human papillomavirus (HPV) or have had other gynecologic cancers like cervical cancer, youre more likely to develop this disease. See your doctor if you have a bloody and rank smelling vaginal discharge, notice painful urination or pelvic pain, or feel a lump in your vagina.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.