For most people with cervical cancer, the first sign of the disease is not strange pain or an unusual sensation. It is an abnormal Pap test. In the early stages, there are really no symptoms. And as is the case with most cancers, the early stages are also the time when treatment results are most sensitive.
If abnormal cells – sometimes called “pre-cancer” – or other signs of the disease appear on that Pap test, treatment usually involves a hysterectomy. That surgery tends to be very successful.
6 hidden signs of cervical cancer.
On the other hand, if you notice symptoms, your cancer may be quite advanced. A cure is still possible at that stage, but it is much more complex. That cure will likely involve radiation or chemotherapy, and the results are less certain. Read on to learn the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Unusual vaginal bleeding is the symptom most related to cervical cancer. You could be bleeding after intercourse or between periods. Heavier than normal periods or bleeding after menopause are also possible signs of cervical cancer.
Along with abnormal bleeding, pelvic pain is also big. The pain can be diffuse, or it could appear in any area of your pelvis. It could also range from a sharp pain to a dull ache. Especially if the pain is new or not, it seems to be related to your menstrual cycle, you will want your doctor to know. Pain during sex or urination are also warning signs.
A cloudy, smelly discharge is also a possible red flag. The discharge could also be watered down. Of course, there are many causes of abnormal vaginal discharge that have nothing to do with cancer. So, don’t panic. Just talk to your doctor.
In the long list of health problems that could make you feel fatigued or sluggish, is cervical cancer. This is not the first symptom we would look for, but it could be present.
Changes in bowel movements.
Urinating often or feeling like you always have to go are symptoms associated with the disease. Also, in the persistent changes in the quality of your bowel movements. The emphasis here, and with all these symptoms except bleeding, is on the word “persistent.” Experiencing these symptoms for less than a week is not something to worry about. But if they stick around or get worse, it’s time to see someone.
You smoke (or used to smoke).
Yes, this is a risk factor, not a symptom. But smokers and former smokers should know that their smoking habit could double their risk of the disease. All of the above symptoms, if caused by cervical cancer, are most likely to appear during the past 30, 40, or 50 years. We see cervical cancer in women as young as 20, and much later in life, but the average age is 40.
Steps to help prevent cervical cancer.
These things can help lower your risk of cervical cancer:
- No Smoking.
- Use condoms during sex. *
- Limit your number of sexual partners.
* Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which is one of the viruses that most frequently causes cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancer, can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as in areas that are not covered. Although the effect of condoms in preventing HPV infection is unknown, condom use has been associated with a lower rate of cervical cancer.