About 50 years ago, cervical cancer, or cervical cancer, was one of the main risks of death faced by many women. Since the development of Pap tests and the recognition of some common warning signs, the number of women dying from this silent killer has dropped significantly. This does not mean, however, that women need to be less vigilant. We know much more about the risks and causes of cervical cancer than ever before, and when caught early, most women have full recoveries. However, the key phrase here is “catch it early.”
Knowing the 12 most common warning signs and learning what you can do to reduce your risk can give you a huge advantage over this disease. Read on to learn what changes you can make to lower your risk and familiarize yourself with the most common warning signs so you can live a long, healthy life.
First, let’s take a look at the risk factors that can increase your chances of developing cervical cancer. Although you can’t change some of them, there are lifestyle choices you can make that will help you tremendously.
Cervical cancer risk factors.
Weight – Women who are overweight or who eat a diet low in fruits and vegetables are known to have a much higher risk of developing cervical cancer. Although the exact reasons for this are not fully understood, scientists believe that poor eating habits rob the body of cancer-fighting nutrients.
HIV – Women with HIV have compromised immune systems, making them more vulnerable to cervical cancer.
Birth control pills – The hormones used in oral contraceptives give certain cancers a kind of “fertile ground” that allows them to flourish. The longer you take oral contraceptives, the higher your risk. Studies show that women who take birth control pills double their risk every 5 years.
Papillomavirus – There are hundreds of different types of human papillomavirus, but regardless of the type, scientists believe that this virus is a type of stepping stone for the development of certain cancers, including cervical cancer.
Multiple Pregnancies – Scientists don’t understand why, but women who have had 3 or more full-term pregnancies have a higher risk of developing this cancer.
Genetics – Women with a family history of cervical cancer have a risk 3 times greater than women who do not have this disease in their history.
Chlamydia – Women who have had a chlamydia infection also have a higher risk of developing this type of cancer.
Smoking – If you smoke, you double your chances of getting cervical cancer. Tobacco and additives in cigarettes damage the DNA of the cervix. Smoking also affects the immune system.
First pregnancy at a young age – Women who had their first full pregnancy before they were 17 years old are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer later in life than women who waited until they were at least 25 to get pregnant.
How to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
When cervical cancer is found early, it is easily treatable, but its risks can be reduced by doing the following:
Get regular Pap tests – Women between the ages of 20-30 should be screened every 3 years. Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should be screened every 3 to 5 years. Women over 65 do not need to be tested if they do not have high risk factors (such as genetics) and have had 3 tests in a row with normal results.
Check your weight – Obese women are at higher risk, so keeping the weight down will help reduce your risk.
Eat a healthy diet – Studies show that women who eat a primarily plant-based diet have lower rates of all types of cancer, including cervical cancer.
Don’t smoke – If you smoke, stop. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
Prevent sexually transmitted diseases – Many people carry the HPV virus and have no symptoms. Limit your sexual partners, know their history and, when in doubt, use condoms.
12 signs of cervical cancer every woman needs to know.
Many women become accustomed to various types of pelvic pain, including cramps and pains during menstruation, which is why many women ignore this particular symptom. However, you should be aware when pelvic pain occurs during other times, if it happens more frequently or becomes more severe than it normally is for you. Don’t let a doctor tell you “it’s normal” or “it’s all in your head” without a complete exam. If you feel that this pain is abnormal, it probably is. If your doctor refuses to examine you or listen to your pain complaints, find another doctor.
2. Uncomfortable sex.
If you start to have pain during intercourse (the technical term is dyspareunia ) this is sometimes a sign of cervical cancer. There are other causes of painful sex, but you should have your doctor rule out cervical cancer before looking at other possible causes.
3. Back pain.
This is another symptom that many women ignore because it often accompanies the onset of the menstrual cycle and although back pain can occur for a wide variety of reasons (carrying a young child, for example), if you experience back pain you cannot explain, or if it accompanies other symptoms on this list, or if you are in a high-risk group, consult your doctor.
4. Weight loss and fatigue.
These symptoms can be due to many other reasons, but again, in combination with other symptoms, or if your doctor has looked at other reasons and can’t find a reason for the unexplained weight loss and extreme fatigue, make sure the cervical cancer.
Anemia is a significant decrease in the number of red blood cells in the blood plasma. Red blood cells are replaced by white blood cells of the immune system. This deprives the body of oxygen and is generally a sign of some kind of disease in the body. Cervical cancer is known to cause anemia. If you have a poor appetite, feeling tired, and other symptoms, see your doctor. If your doctor indicates that you are anemic (a simple blood test will reveal this to you), ask your doctor to check for cervical cancer, as anemia is often a warning sign that the cancer is progressing to a more advanced stage.
6. Leg pain.
When the cervix begins to swell, it can obstruct blood flow to the legs, causing the legs to swell and feel painful or tender to any sense of touch. This symptom is common in the early stages of cervical cancer.
7. Unusual bleeding.
Of all the symptoms that we are going to list, this is perhaps the most common. If you have bleeding between menstrual cycles or if you experience bleeding after having sex, this could be a sign of cervical cancer. Women who are postmenopausal and are no longer having periods should really pay attention to this sign and see the doctor immediately.
8. Painful urination.
If you feel pain or a stinging sensation, or tension when urinating, this could be a sign of cervical cancer. Women who have had this type of cancer describe it in different words, but generally speaking, they all describe some type of abnormal discomfort when urinating. This usually means that the cancer has spread to nearby tissues and this requires immediate attention.
9. Irregular or unusual menstrual cycles.
Women must have a certain level of consistency when it comes to their menstrual cycle. If the length of your period, frequency, or intensity of your period changes, it could be a sign of the early stages of cervical cancer. If these inconsistencies persist for several months, contact your doctor.
10. Urinary Irradiation.
If you are not experiencing pain, but the appearance of your urine or your urination habits change (you suddenly have difficulty urinating or start to experience incontinence), you should see a doctor. Although some changes are due to other causes (urinary tract infections can cause discoloration, bloody urine) they are also another sign of cervical cancer.
11. Unusual vaginal discharge.
Most women experience a small amount of vaginal discharge, but if your discharge changes drastically – it smells bad or appears bloody or green in color, or suddenly increases a bit, this could also be one of the first signs of neck cancer uterine and should be checked by your doctor.
12. No symptoms.
This is the worst of the symptoms of all because for many women, in the early stages, they don’t experience any symptoms at all. If you are at a higher risk for this type of cancer, it would be wise to get regular checkups and take steps to reduce your risk as much as possible. Even if you don’t have symptoms, getting a Pap smear every so often based on your age is a good decision that could save your life.
If you are an adult woman and you notice any changes in your reproductive cycle or urination habits, or if you feel unusual pain, consult your doctor to be sure that you can rule out this silent killer.