Vaginal Cancer: Risk Factors

Risk factors for vaginal cancer are similar to those linked to cervical and vulvar cancer.  They include:

  • History of abnormal, precancerous cells lining the inside of vagina (vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia or VAIN)
  • Exposure to the drug DES while in the mother’s womb.  DES was given to pregnant women to prevent miscarriages in the 1950s.  Women who have this exposure have an increased risk of developing a rare form of vaginal cancer called clear cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina.
  • Age greater than 60 years
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection
  • History of abnormal PAP smears
  • Smoking tobacco
  • History of cervical cancer or uterine cancer
  • History of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)