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What is vaginal cancer?
Vaginal cancer is a rare cancer of the female reproductive system. Around 15 women are diagnosed with it every year in Ireland.
Vaginal cancer is when normal cells in the vagina change and grow in an abnormal way. These cells can form a malignant (cancerous) tumour.
What is the vagina and what does it do?
The vagina is part of the female reproductive system. It is a muscular tube about 10cm long. It is the passage between the opening of the womb (cervix) and the vulva. The vulva is the most outer part of the female reproductive system located at the opening of the vagina.
The vagina has many functions. It opens and expands during and during the birth of a baby, and it drains blood during a monthly period.
The wall or lining of the vagina is made up of many layers. For example, an epithelial tissue layer making up the lining of the vagina and a connective tissue layer making up the walls of the vagina that also include muscle, lymph nodes and nerves. The lymph help to fight infection. There are also glands near the entrance of the vagina which produce a mucus. This keeps the vagina moist and acts as a lubricant during sex.
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