To examine whether women who have had a hysterectomy for cervical cancer may be at an increased risk of vaginal epithelial lesions.
We studied 147 patients with invasive cervical carcinoma (76 squamous cell carcinomas [SCCs], 60 adenocarcinomas [ADCs], and 11 adenosquamous cell carcinomas) who were treated by hysterectomy and had vaginal pathologic follow-up for a mean period of 43.3 months.
Of the patients, 15.0% (22/147) developed vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN) or recurrence after hysterectomy, including two recurrent carcinomas and eight high-grade VAINs. More important, these high-grade VAINs or recurrent carcinomas were detected only in patients with cervical SCC within the first two years after hysterectomy but not in patients with cervical ADC. Eleven (23.4%) of 47 patients had at least one positive high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) testing result during the follow-up period, and VAIN was detected in 54.5% (6/11) of patients with an hrHPV-positive result compared with 16.7% (6/36) with an hrHPV-negative result.
Our results indicate that women with cervical cancer are at an increased risk of VAIN besides recurrence, and women with cervical SCC are more prone to high-grade VAIN/recurrence, especially within the first two years after hysterectomy. The significantly increased detection rate of VAINs/recurrence in the hrHPV-positive group suggests vaginal cytology and HPV cotesting might be the preferred method for surveillance in these women.