Vaginal Cancer and Vulvar Cancer

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Vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer specialists with Duke’s nationally ranked cancer program detect and treat cancer that occurs in the tissue in or surrounding the vagina. Our gynecologic oncologists are specialists in treating women with cancers that affect their reproductive system. We understand the impact vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer have on your fertility, sexual function, and psychological health and on your family. Our doctors draw upon the latest research findings and our ongoing clinical trials to ensure you receive the best treatment for your condition.

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Expertise in Vaginal Cancer and Vulvar Cancer

If you have vaginal cancer or vulvar cancer, having a gynecologic oncologist leading your team ensures you receive the best care available. Our gynecologic oncologists in Durham and Raleigh work with women with gynecologic cancers every day. We use our training and experience to tailor chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical treatments, including laser surgery, to minimize cancer’s impact on your fertility and sexuality. If surgery is needed, we have the training and experience to perform complex procedures on the reproductive system.

If you have been diagnosed with the type of HPV that increases your risk for vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer, or your Pap test results suggest vaginal cancerous cells, we work closely with you to look for suspicious cell changes. That ensures your treatment starts at the earliest possible stage. Our overarching goal is to detect vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer early, provide the treatment that's best for you, and increase your chances for a positive long-term outcome.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Pap Test

Performed during a pelvic exam. Looks for abnormal cells or growths that exist in the vagina and the vulvar areas. 


A colposcope provides magnification to better view the area and abnormal pre-cancerous or cancerous cells. 


Vaginal and vulvar tissue is removed during a colposcopy exam to be tested for the presence of abnormal cells.

Advanced Imaging Tests

X-rays, CT, MRI, and PET (positron emission tomography) scans create high-quality images to see if cancer has spread.


An endoscope inserted into the rectum allows doctors to look at the rectum and colon to see if abnormal cells are present. A biopsy may be part of this procedure.


An endoscope is inserted into the bladder through the urethra to see if cancer has spread. A biopsy may be part of the procedure.

Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping

A biopsy is performed in the lymph nodes to see if cancer has spread. 


Treatment for vaginal cancer varies depending on the type, size, stage, and location of the cancer. Surgery is the most common treatment for vulvar cancer and radiation for vaginal cancer.


Small, early stage cancers can be removed surgically, along with surrounding healthy tissue for precaution. 

Laser Surgery
Burns off vaginal or vulvar precancerous cells.

Surgically removes all or part of the vulva or vagina. Healthy tissue is preserved. 

Reconstructive Surgery
Rebuilds the vaginal area with tissue taken from other parts of your body. Allows you to maintain sexual activity.


Kills or slows growth of cancer cells. Often combined with radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy

External beams deliver radiation to areas affected by your vaginal cancer or vulvar cancer. We also use internal radiation, such as brachytherapy, in which radiation capsules or seeds are placed inside the body on or near the cancer site to kill tumor cells. A small dose of chemotherapy may be given weekly to help the radiation work better. 

Best Cancer Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

Why Choose Duke

Nationally Ranked Cancer Program
As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we are recognized for exploring new therapies through ongoing clinical trials. We are also part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving care for our patients.

Access to Our Clinical Trials
You may be eligible to participate in our ongoing clinical trials, which explore new therapies, including chemotherapy drugs that slow or kill cancer cells, immunotherapy drugs that boost your body’s ability to fight cancer, and biologic therapies that block the systems that allow cancer to grow in your body.

Female Reproductive Cancer Specialists
Studies show that women with gynecological cancers who are treated by gynecologic oncologists -- obstetricians/gynecologists who have additional years of training in cancers of the female reproductive system -- have better outcomes.

Surgeons Trained in Female Reconstruction
Our experts undergo advanced training in female reproductive plastic surgery, After removing vaginal cancer or vulvar cancer, plastic surgery may be necessary to rebuild the tissues.

Fertility Services for Cancer Survivors
If you are concerned about the impact of chemotherapy and/or radiation on your fertility, experts at the Duke Fertility Center work closely with you to discuss fertility preservation treatments, which may include egg freezing, tissue banking, and experimental options that are available through our ongoing clinical trials.

Convenient Appointments
We schedule your appointments quickly, coordinate your schedule with your care team, and work with you to develop the best treatment plan.

Support for Your Whole Being
Our comprehensive cancer support services range from helping patients minimize the side effects of treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.

This page was medically reviewed on 01/16/2024 by