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Symptoms - Vaginal cancer

Main symptoms of vaginal cancer

The main symptoms of vaginal cancer are usually:

  • a lump in the vagina
  • ulcers and other skin changes in or around the vagina

Other symptoms of vaginal cancer include:

  • bleeding from the vagina after the menopause
  • bleeding after sex or pain during sex
  • smelly or bloodstained vaginal discharge
  • bleeding between periods
  • an itch in your vagina that will not go away
  • pain when you pee, or needing to pee a lot

Vaginal cancer is rare, especially in women under 40.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you have any symptoms of vaginal cancer
  • your symptoms are new and do not go away

Important: Important

These symptoms are very common and can be caused by many different conditions.

Having them does not definitely mean you have vaginal cancer. But it's important to get them checked by a GP.

This is because if they're caused by cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable.

What happens at your GP appointment

The GP or practice nurse may ask to examine you.

You can ask for a female doctor or nurse when you book your appointment.

You'll be asked to undress, behind a screen, from the waist down. You'll be given a sheet to put over you.

Then the GP or nurse may:

  • look at the outside of your vagina (vulva)
  • feel inside your vagina with 2 fingers while pressing on your tummy (they will be wearing gloves)

It should not be painful, but you might find it uncomfortable. Talk to the GP or nurse if you're feeling uncomfortable.

You can have a friend, family member or other member of staff in the room with you during your exam if you want.

You can ask to stop the exam at any time.

Referral to a specialist

The GP may refer you for more tests or to see a specialist in hospital if they think you have a condition that needs to be investigated.

This may be an urgent referral, usually within 2 weeks, if you have certain symptoms. This does not definitely mean you have cancer.

Page last reviewed: 03 December 2021
Next review due: 03 December 2024