Are You Overlooking Three Common Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?

May 7th 2016

Cervical cancer is a subtle yet deadly disease, and many women do not notice the symptoms until it is too late. Consult your doctor to develop a preventative screening program, and seek medical attention for abnormal pain, bleeding or discharge.

HPV Infection

The human papillomavirus, commonly known as genital warts, is a major risk factor for cervical cancer. Not all strains of HPV make a woman more likely to get cancer, but several strains have been linked to it. Fortunately, there is a vaccine to prevent against infection by these strains, but many sexually active people do not have it.

HPV infection is not a direct symptom of cervical cancer, but it is a sign you need to work out a careful screening program. If you get cervical cancer, early intervention is key to a good prognosis.

Abnormal Discharge and Bleeding

Early stage cervical cancer has few to no symptoms, but abnormal discharge at later stages is common. This often involves bleeding, especially after intercourse or pelvic examinations. Abnormal spotting or bleeding after menopause is another significant symptom.

Some women may not experience clear signs of blood but may have heavy discharge that is brownish or yellowish in color. Any sudden change in vaginal discharge is a sign you should see your doctor as soon as possible. Even if it is not cervical cancer, it can be a sign of an infection or other potentially serious condition.

Pain

Cervical cancer often causes pain in the later stages. This often starts with vaginal pain during or immediately after intercourse, and can expand into more consistent abdominal and vaginal pain. It can feel like a dull ache, or it can come as more sharp pains that subside after a few minutes. Occasional abdominal pains are normal, but persistent pains with no obvious cause should compel you to see a doctor.

Preventative Screenings

Cervical cancer usually has no recognizable symptoms during the early stages, which makes it one of the more dangerous cancers. Many women only find out they have it after it has already spread. The best way to catch it early is to get regular Pap smears. These simple tests check for abnormal cells on the cervix and are fairly reliable at catching cervical cancer. Most women only need them every few years, although if you have risk factors such as a family history or a history of HPV infection, you may need more frequent screenings.

Conclusion

Cervical cancer is relatively rare, but it can also be difficult to detect because it generally does not cause symptoms during the early stages. Most women who seek medical attention for cervical cancer symptoms are in the later stages, which have a poor prognosis and may require serious interventions, including hysterectomies. Consult your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

Sources

CancerCenter.com "Cervical cancer symptoms" http://www.cancercenter.com/cervical-cancer/symptoms/
CDC.gov "Cervical cancer" http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/index.htm
Cancer.org "Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer" http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervicalcancer/moreinformation/cervicalcancerpreventionandearlydetection/cervical-cancer-prevention-and-early-detection-cervical-cancer-signs-and-symptoms
WebMD.com "Cervical cancer--topic overview" http://www.webmd.com/cancer/cervical-cancer/cervical-cancer-topic-overview

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