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Risk Factors

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main risk factor for vaginal and vulvar cancers. About 65% of vaginal cancers and about 50% of vulvar cancers are linked to HPV.

Other risk factors include—

  • Immunosuppression (for example, HIV/AIDS).
  • History of cervical pre-cancer, cervical cancer, or anal cancer.
  • For vaginal cancer, in utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES).

Knowledge Check

Answer the question on your own and check your answer.

Which of the following conditions are symptoms of vaginal or vulvar cancer? Check Answer
• Persistent vaginal itching
• Pain with intercourse
• Abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding
• Bloating
• Gastrointestinal upset

Answer: Persistent vaginal itching, pain with intercourse, and abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding.