Cancer is complex — there is no routine vaginal cancer, nor is there ever a routine way to treat it.

The OSUCCC – James physicians are nationally and internationally renowned in research and patient care for their one particular cancer. Because of that expertise and understanding of cancer’s complexities and how it acts and reacts differently in each person, the very best outcomes — and the most effective means of treating cancer patients — come from a team approach.

At the OSUCCC – James, vaginal cancer patients have a team of experts that includes medical gynecologic oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, geneticists, nutritionists and more. Also on that team are vaginal cancer researchers who help sequence tumors to identify key molecules that fuel each patient’s cancer and who then develop drugs that target only those particular molecules. Many of our experts also help write the national clinical guidelines for treatments.

As one of only a few cancer centers in the country funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to more clinical trials than nearly any other cancer hospital in the country and to more of the latest, most targeted, most effective treatment options — many that are available nowhere else but at the OSUCCC – James.

There are several types of treatment for vaginal cancer. The OSUCCC – James team of subspecialists determine the best treatment for each patient based on his or her specific, individual vaginal cancer. Patients may receive one treatment or a combination of treatments.

Treatment for Vaginal Cancer


Most women with vaginal cancer have surgery to remove as much of the disease as possible. Vaginal cancer surgeries include:

Laser Surgery

The doctor uses a laser to cut the vaginal tissue or remove cancer from its surface. Lasers cause no bleeding.

Local Excision

A surgeon removes the vaginal cancer and a small section of health tissue around the cancer. The surgery also is called wide excision.


A surgeon may have to remove all or part of a woman’s vagina to remove the cancer. Removing the entire vagina is called a total vaginectomy and removing a portion is a partial vaginectomy.

Total Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy involves removal of the uterus and cervix to treat vaginal cancer that has spread. The hysterectomy may be performed using laparoscopic surgery, which uses a few tiny incisions and helps patients recover more quickly.

Lymph Node Dissection

The surgeon removes lymph nodes near the cancer. Tissue from the lymph nodes is analyzed by a pathologist for signs that cancer cells have spread to the lymph node. This procedure also is called lymphadenectomy.

Pelvic Exenteration

If vaginal cancer has spread into other organs, the surgeon may remove the lower colon, rectum, bladder, cervix, ovaries and vagina, along with nearby lymph nodes. The surgeon creates new artificial openings called stoma for urine and stool to flow outside the body to special collection bags.

Reconstructive Surgery

Following surgery to treat vaginal cancer, a surgeon may graft skin from another area of the body to use for rebuilding vaginal tissue.

Radiation Therapy

Even if a patient’s entire vaginal tumor is removed, she may also have radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by destroying the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing. Women who have vaginal cancer may receive topical chemotherapy. This treatment delivers cancer-destroying drugs directly to the tissues of the vagina using a lotion or cream.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Vaginal Cancer & Clinical Trials

For cancer patients, clinical trials mean hope. Hope for a cancer-free world and for better, more targeted ways to prevent, detect, treat and cure individual cancers. Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their cancer treatment.

The OSUCCC – James has more than 500 open clinical trials at any given time, with some of the world’s latest discoveries available to clinical trial patients right here in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, patients have access to more cancer clinical trials here than at nearly any other hospital in the region as well as access to some of the most advanced, targeted treatments and drugs available.

The OSUCCC – James is one of only a few U.S. cancer centers funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs. These trials go only to centers that demonstrate an exemplary capacity for research and clinical care, the expertise to deliver the latest in treatments and the infrastructure to interpret and track treatment results.

Additionally, Ohio State has nearly 300 cancer researchers dedicated to understanding what makes each patient’s cancer grow, move, metastasize or reoccur. Because of the OSUCCC – James’ NCI phase I and phase II approvals, these experts can move research discoveries into clinical trials and make them available to patients sooner.

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

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