What are the grades and stages of vaginal cancer?

Cancer grading diagram

What are the grades of vaginal cancer?

Grading describes how quickly the cancer may grow and spread.
Low-grade cancer is more slow growing, and high-grade cancer is usually faster-growing. 

  • Grading describes the cancer cells – what they look like and how fast they might grow
  • Staging describes where the cancer is in your body

What are the stages of vaginal cancer?

Staging means finding out how big the cancer is and if it has spread to other parts of your body. Staging will help your doctor to plan the best treatment for you.

The stages of vaginal cancer are usually numbered 1 to 4 and can be further subdivided into A and B. A higher number, such as stage 4, means a more advanced cancer.

  • Pre-cancer – VAIN (vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia): This means there are abnormal cells in the vagina. These cells are not cancerous but can in time lead to an invasive cancer.
  • Stage 1: Cancer is in the wall of the vagina but has not spread anywhere else.
  • Stage 2: Cancer has begun to spread outside the wall of the vagina into the surrounding tissues, but has not yet reached the internal walls of the pelvis. 
  • Stage 3: Cancer has spread from the vaginal wall into the surrounding tissues and has reached the walls of the pelvis. Cancer may also be present in the surrounding lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4a: The cancer has spread from the vagina into the bladder and/or back passage (rectum).
  • Stage 4b: The cancer has spread from the vagina into distant organs like the lungs or liver. 

Staging can be hard to understand, so ask your doctor and nurse for more information if you need it.

For more information

Icon: Phone


1800 200 700

Icon: Email