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Follow Up After Vaginal Cancer

Follow Up After Vaginal Cancer

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

I was diagnosed in 2004 with primary vaginal cancer. I had a vaginectomy with my lymph nodes removed. I also had reconstruction. I am followed up every 6 months with only Pap smears. Should I be getting any particular blood work, urinalysis, or scans other than my Pap smear to keep up with a cancer that may or may not return?

Answer

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

Pap tests seem to be the best way to monitor for recurrence of the vaginal cancer, as well as cervical cancer. Unfortunately, urinalysis and blood work are not helpful for detecting cancer recurrence in this setting. You may want to ask your physician whether he/she would recommend any kind of imaging scans for surveillance – this recommendation will likely depend on the status of your lymph nodes and other factors related to your original tumor.