Survival Rates for Vaginal Cancer

What does 5-year survival rate mean?

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 women now being diagnosed with vaginal cancer.

Survival rates cannot predict what will happen to any one person. 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 your situation.

Survival rates for vaginal cancer, by stage

Survival rates also vary based on the type of vaginal cancer. But this cancer is so rare, different cancer centers may base their numbers on all types of vaginal cancer, while others track only squamous cancers. Because of this, there's no one way to measure survival and survival rates are given as ranges.

AJCC
Stage

5-Year Disease Specific
Survival Rate

I

75% to 95%

II

50% to 80%

III

30% to 60%

IV

15% to 50%

Relative survival rates are a more accurate way to estimate the effect of cancer on survival. These rates compare people with cancer to people in the overall population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type and stage of cancer is 50%, it means that people who have that cancer are, on average, about 50% as likely as people who don’t have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.

From 2006 to 2012, the relative 5-year survival for all cases of vaginal cancer combined, was about 47%.

Although these numbers are the most updated available, it's important to remember that these numbers are based on cancers that were diagnosed in the past. They may also include various types of vaginal cancer. It's likely that the better treatments used today greatly impact long-term outcomes and survival.

Remember, these survival rates are only estimates – they can’t predict what will happen to any individual person. Talk to your doctor to better understand your specific situation.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2017. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2017.

Frank SJ, Jhingran A, Levenback C, et al.: Definitive radiation therapy for squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2005;62:138-147.

Jhingran A, Russell AH, Seiden MV, et al. Chapter 87: Cancers of the Cervix, Vulva, and Vagina. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2014.

Last Medical Review: March 19, 2018 Last Revised: March 19, 2018

American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.