Topical Therapy for Vaginal Pre-Cancer

Topical therapy puts the drug directly onto the cancer. This is another way to treat vaginal pre-cancer (vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia or VAIN), but is not used to treat invasive vaginal cancer.

One choice is to apply the chemotherapy drug, fluorouracil (5-FU), directly to the lining of the vagina. This is repeated weekly for about 10 weeks or given nightly for 1 to 2 weeks. This treatment has drawbacks. It can cause severe vaginal and vulvar irritation. Also, it may not work as well using the laser or simply removing the lesion with surgery.

A second drug that can be used topically is called imiquimod. This drug comes in a cream to be applied to the area of VAIN. Imiquimod is not a chemotherapy drug. Instead, it acts by boosting the body’s immune response to the area of abnormal tissue. This treatment has led to improvement of VAIN (the lesions changed from VAIN 2 or 3 to VAIN 1). In some women, it has caused VAIN to go away completely.

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Last Medical Review: June 17, 2014 Last Revised: February 16, 2016

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