Inoperable stage II-B squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina

Last Modified: November 30, 2003

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My niece had stage II-B squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina. After a remission following a combination of therapies, it relapsed. At surgery, the cancer was found to be localized, but inoperable because of its attachment to a critical blood vessel. The surgeon believes the situation is hopeless. Please let me know if you think there are any options? 

Answer

Christina S. Chu, MD, Assistant Professor of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

This is a very difficult situation. The primary treatment for stage IIB vaginal cancers is based on radiation therapy. If tumor recurs in an area that has already been irradiated, and surgery is not possible, chemotherapy may be an option. Only small studies of chemotherapy for treatment of recurrent vaginal cancer have been performed. Drugs that have demonstrated some activity against the cancer include doxorubicin and cisplatin.