At the OSUCCC – James, cancer research experts focus on studying vaginal cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The OSUCCC – James consistently paves the way in learning more about what causes vaginal cancer — leading to even more highly targeted prevention, care and treatment.

Screening for Vaginal Cancer

Cancer screening exams can help find vaginal cancer at its earliest stage when the chances for successful treatment, optimal outcomes and fewer side effects are greatest. These tests are usually done when a patient is healthy and has no specific symptoms.

Not only are expert cancer researchers at the OSUCCC – James continually working to detect and diagnose vaginal cancer early, but they are also developing additional tests to detect and diagnose cancer even earlier, leading to improved outcomes, faster responses and fewer side effects.

Unlike with some cancers, there are currently no recommended screening exams for vaginal cancer. A doctor may notice precancerous changes to the cells in the vagina during an examination and Pap test to screen for cervical cancer.

Women who have been exposed to Diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic form of the hormone estrogen that was prescribed to pregnant women between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage, premature labor and related complications, are at increased risk for vaginal cancer. Women who have taken DES should be particularly aware of vaginal cancer symptoms and have regular cervical cancer screening.

For women aged 30 or older, or for women with atypical Pap test results, a doctor may recommend a test for human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that is spread by sexual contact. HPV can create changes in the cells in the vagina that, if not treated, can lead to cancer in some cases.

Vaginal Cancer Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that increases your risk of getting vaginal cancer. Factors for vaginal cancer include the following:

  • Being aged 60 or older
  • Being exposed to Diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic form of the hormone estrogen that was prescribed to pregnant women between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage, premature labor and related complications
  • Having human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Having a history of abnormal cells in the cervix or cervical cancer
  • Having a history of abnormal cells in the uterus or cancer of the uterus
  • Having had a hysterectomy for health problems that affect the uterus

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

The presence of risk factors does not necessarily mean you have vaginal cancer. But if you have risk factors, you should discuss them with your doctor.

If you have received a vaginal cancer diagnosis, or if you want a second opinion or just want to speak to a vaginal cancer specialist, we are here to help you. Call 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210