Management options for vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia

Int J Clin Pract. 2020 Nov;74(11):e13598. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.13598. Epub 2020 Aug 4.


Background: Vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VaIN) is a rare disease of the lower genital tract, strongly associated with HPV infection, which may progress to vaginal carcinoma.

Purpose: The aim of this review is to summarise current treatment options, evaluate their efficacy and make provide recommendations on the optimal management of the disease.

Materials and methods: A comprehensive search of the literature was performed using the PubMed database for articles referring to the treatment of VaIN. We restricted our search only in articles written in English with publication dates within the last 10 years.

Results: Surgical approach included local excision, CO2 laser ablation, CO2 laser skinning colpectomy and laparoscopic upper vaginectomy. Medical management was based on intravaginally administered topical agents such as 5% imiquimod cream, 5-fluorouracil cream and topical oestrogens. Intracavitary radiation therapy was reported in two forms: Low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy and high-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy. All treatment options were well tolerated, with satisfactory cure rates and acceptable recurrence rates.

Conclusion: The choice of treatment depends upon many factors. Surgical excision is the mainstay of treatment and should be performed if invasion cannot be excluded. Topical agents are useful for persistent, multifocal lesions or for women that cannot undergo surgical treatment. Brachytherapy is associated with high morbidity rates and should be reserved for women who have multifocal disease, are poor surgical candidates and/or have failed other treatments. CO2 laser ablation achieves minimal scarring and sexual dysfunction; however, invasive disease should be ruled out with biopsies before the initiation of the treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma in Situ* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imiquimod / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vaginal Neoplasms* / therapy


  • Imiquimod