Vaginal Cancer

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Survival rates for vaginal cancer

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person’s prognosis (outlook). Some patients with cancer may want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you decide you don’t want to know them, stop reading here and skip to the next section.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years (and many are cured).

Five-year disease-specific survival rates assume that some people will die of other causes and only count the deaths from the cancer itself. This is a more accurate way to describe the prognosis for patients with a particular type and stage of cancer.

In order to get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment since then may result in a more favorable outlook for people now being diagnosed with vaginal cancer.

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen to any person specifically. Many other factors can affect a person’s outlook, such as their overall health, the treatment they receive, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Your doctor can tell you how the numbers below may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with the aspects of your situation.

The numbers below come from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER database, and are based on women with vaginal cancer (any type) who were diagnosed between 1990 and 2004.

Survival rates for vaginal cancer, by stage


5-Year Disease Specific
Survival Rate





III and IV


Survival rates also vary based on the type of vaginal cancer. The following statistics for vaginal cancer come from the SEER database, and are based on women who were diagnosed with vaginal cancer between 1988 and 2001. These are relative survival rates. Relative survival rates compare the observed survival with that expected for people without vaginal cancer. This is another way to describe the prognosis for patients with a particular type and stage of cancer.

  • For all cases of vaginal cancer combined, the relative 5-year survival is about 50%.
  • For squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina, the relative 5-year survival is 54%.
  • For adenocarcinoma of the vagina it is almost 60%.
  • For vaginal melanoma, the 5-year relative survival is only 13%.

Last Medical Review: 06/17/2014
Last Revised: 02/16/2016