Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia

Vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VaIN) is a precancerous condition that affects the lining of the vagina.

About Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia

Hollow organs such as the vagina and lower part of the cervix are lined with a layer of thin cells known as squamous cells or the epithelial lining. Disruptions to vaginal squamous cell function, usually following human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, cause abnormal cell growth. Vagina intraepithelial neoplasia (VaIN), formerly known as vaginal dysplasia, emerges at the early stage of this growth and can progress to a type of vaginal cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina if left untreated, though this could take years. Some forms of VaIN subside without any intervention.

While there is no routine screening test for VaIN, a positive human papillomavirus (HPV) test may prompt your provider to examine your vagina using an imaging technique referred to as colposcopy so that conditions linked to HPV, such as VaIN, can be addressed proactively.

Types of Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia

VaIN is categorized based on the amount of tissue affected by the condition.

Types of vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia include:

  • VaIN 1: Abnormal cells are present in the outermost third of the vaginal lining.
  • VaIN 2: Abnormal cells are present in the outermost two-thirds of the vaginal lining.
  • VaIN 3: Abnormal cells are present in more than two-thirds of the vaginal lining.
    • Carcinoma in situ: A form of VaIN 3 in which abnormal cells are present throughout the entire vaginal lining but have not invaded deeper tissue or spread to other parts of the body yet.

Symptoms of Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia

VaIN typically presents without noticeable symptoms.

Symptoms of vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia may include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

Risk Factors for Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia

Certain people are at greater risk of developing VaIN following an HPV infection.

Risk factors for vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia may include:

  • Health history: VaIN is more frequently associated with a history of cervical cancer or precancer.

Treating Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia

Treatment for VaIN may vary based on the extent to which your condition has affected the vagina’s intraepithelial lining. Some cases of VaIN 1 go away without any treatment and only need to be monitored to ensure the condition does not spread. In other cases, the abnormal tissue can be removed with topical treatment, laser therapy, or surgery. Your care team will work with you to determine the best form of treatment.

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