Vaginal cancer is a rare disease. The American Cancer Society estimates about 2300 women in the United States will be diagnosed with vaginal cancer every year. About 1 in 100,000 women will be diagnosed with in situ or invasive vaginal cancer.
The most common type of vaginal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma (75%), which comes from the cells that line the vagina. Squamous cell vaginal cancer usually spreads slowly and stays near the vagina. The second major type of vaginal cancer is called adenocarcinoma (10-15%). Its cancer cells begin in the glandular cells of the vagina that make fluids such as mucus. A rare form of adenocarcinoma is linked to women being exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth. Other rare types of vaginal cancer include melanoma (8-10%) and sarcoma, which mostly occurs in children.