Can I Get Another Cancer After Having Vaginal Cancer?
Cancer survivors can be affected by a number of health problems, but often their greatest concern is facing cancer again. If a cancer comes back after treatment it is called a “recurrence.” But some cancer survivors may develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is called a “second cancer.” No matter what type of cancer you have had, it is still possible to get another (new) cancer, even after surviving the first.
Unfortunately, being treated for cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get another cancer. People who have had cancer can still get the same types of cancers that other people get. In fact, certain types of cancer and cancer treatments can be linked to a higher risk of certain second cancers.
Survivors of vaginal cancer can get any type of second cancer, but they have an increased risk of:
- Vulvar cancer
- Esophagus cancer
- Cancer of the ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder)
These cancers are all linked to smoking, which is also a risk factor for vaginal cancer. In addition, both vaginal and vulvar cancer are linked to infection with human papilloma virus (HPV).
Follow-up after treatment
After completing treatment of vaginal cancer see their doctors regularly to look for signs of their cancer coming back, as well as a new cancer of the vulva. Experts do not recommend additional testing to look for second cancers in patients without symptoms. Let your doctor know about any new symptoms or problems, because they could be caused by the cancer coming back or by a new disease or second cancer.
Survivors of vaginal cancer should follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer and stay away from tobacco products. Smoking increases the risk of many cancers, including the second cancers seen in women treated for vaginal cancer.
To help maintain good health, survivors should also:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Adopt a physically active lifestyle
- Consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods
- Limit consumption of alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day
These steps may also lower the risk of some cancers.
See Second Cancers in Adults for more information about causes of second cancers.
Last Medical Review: June 17, 2014 Last Revised: February 16, 2016