5 Warning Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer forms in the cells lining the cervix or the lower part of a woman’s uterus. Most cervical cancer is caused by a type of sexually transmitted virus known as human papillomaviruses (HPV). Although cervical cancer only affects approximately two hundred thousand women each year, the HPV virus can lay dormant in the body and may not cause problems until years later. Regular pap smears can detect abnormal cells that may lead to cancer. Here are some warning signs and symptoms to look out for.
Unexplained Changes In The Body
Although early stages of cervical cancer may not produce any symptoms at all, it is important to pay attention to your general well being. If you start feeling nauseous or overly fatigued, it could be an indication that cervical cancer is forming. Cancer may also cause unexplained weight loss. In addition to seeing your doctor every year for wellness exams, keep a diary of any unexplained symptoms you feel if they persist for more than two weeks.
Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Some vaginal discharge is normal for women during ovulation. Vaginal discharge two weeks before your period may occur in small amounts. But you should see your doctor if you experience a larger than average amount of discharge. Abnormal discharge may be white, clear, or have a brown tint with hints of blood. It may also be watery or have a foul smell. Your doctor will likely want to perform an exam to rule out abnormal cell growth if you experience abnormal discharge.
Vaginal Bleeding Or Spotting
Invasive cervical cancer usually causes irregular bleeding after sex or in between periods. The bleeding or discharge often gets dismissed as spotting, which is common for some women in between menstrual cycles. Postmenopausal women who no longer have periods may also experience vaginal bleeding. Contact your doctor immediately if you notice irregular or abnormal bleeding of any kind as this may be a sign of cancer, especially if you no longer have regular monthly periods.
If you experience pain in the pelvis area or pain while having intercourse, it might be a sign of cervical cancer. If the pain is accompanied by spotted bleeding, seek treatment right away. Advanced symptoms of cervical cancer may include lower back pain as well as inflammation or swelling of one or both legs. If you experience pain or difficulty urinating, contact your doctor immediately as this may also be a sign of cervical cancer.
High-Risk HPV Or Genital Warts
If you have been diagnosed with high-risk HPV, your risk of cervical cancer is greater than healthy individuals. HPV may cause genital warts or unexplained rashes near the groin or genital area. Once the HPV virus is detected, it can lay dormant in the body with no symptoms at all. It is important to see your doctor for regular pap smears to monitor the virus. Your doctor may need to perform a biopsy if he or she detects abnormal cells to rule out cancer.