Human papillomavirus (HPV)

More than half of all vaginal cancers are caused by an infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV).

You can get HPV from:

Who is more likely to get vaginal cancer

You're more likely to get vaginal cancer if:

Women can still get vaginal cancer even if they've had a hysterectomy.

If you're trans or non-binary and have a vagina, or part of a vagina left from gender surgery, you can also get vaginal cancer, even if you've had a hysterectomy.

How to lower your chance of getting vaginal cancer

You cannot always prevent vaginal cancer.

But as there's a link between vaginal cancer and HPV, cervical screening and HPV vaccination are the best ways to protect yourself.

There are some things you can do to lower your chance of getting vaginal cancer.


  • use condoms, which lower your chance of getting HPV – but they do not cover all the skin around your genitals, so you're not fully protected

  • quit smoking, as it can weaken your immune system and the chemicals in cigarettes can also cause cervical cancer

  • eat a balanced diet to help support your immune system


It's important to get any symptoms of vaginal cancer checked by a GP.

Page last reviewed: 10 August 2021
Next review due: 10 August 2021