Cervical Cancer Symptoms & Signs
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What Are the Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?
In most cases, cervical cancer does not cause noticeable symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Routine Pap screening is important to check for abnormal cells in the cervix, so they can be monitored and treated as early as possible.
When present, common symptoms of cervical cancer may include:
- Vaginal Bleeding – This includes bleeding between periods, after sexual intercourse or post-menopausal bleeding.
- Unusual Vaginal Discharge – A watery, pink or foul-smelling discharge is common.
- Pelvic Pain – Pain during intercourse or at other times may be a sign of abnormal changes to the cervix, or less serious conditions.
All of these cervical cancer symptoms should be discussed with your doctor.
Signs of Advanced Stages of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer may spread (metastasize) within the pelvis, to the lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body. Signs of advanced cervical cancer include:
- Weight loss
- Back pain
- Leg pain or swelling
- Leakage of urine or feces from the vagina
- Bone fractures
Cervical Cancer Screening and Testing
Cervical cancer screening makes it possible to detect abnormal changes in the cervix, before symptoms are present.
Current screening methods include the Pap test and the HPV test. Most women are advised to get a Pap test starting at age 21 or within three years of having intercourse, whichever happens first.
The Pap test is one of the most reliable and effective cancer screening methods available, and women should have yearly exams by an OB-GYN. However, the Pap test may not detect some cases of abnormal cells in the cervix. The HPV test screens women for the high-risk HPV strains that may lead to cervical cancer. It is approved for women over age 30.
Although screening methods are not 100 percent accurate, these tests are often an effective method for detecting cervical cancer in the early stages when it is still highly treatable. Talk with your doctor about which type of cervical cancer screening is right for you.
NOTE: These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. It is important to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
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