Cervical cancer has noticeable symptoms that make it one of the most avertable types of cancer among women. With increasing Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and the usage of the Pap test, the mortality rate of cervical cancer has decreased considerably to over 50 percent in the last 40 years.
Oncologists emphasize that being aware of the common symptoms of cervical cancer can help detect the disease at an early stage and increase the chances of successful treatment. Here are the common symptoms of cervical cancer one should know about:
Pain in the vagina during sexual intercourse: Experiencing pain during sex is a symptom of advanced cervical cancer. This occurs due to the tumor growth in the reproductive organs and tissues.
Pain in the appendix, pelvic, or the lower back: Pain in the pelvic or lower back region can be connected with problems in the reproductive organs, like the cervix. A major symptom of cervical cancer is the occurrence of continuous pain in the pelvic area, but one might notice numerous other red flags before the pelvic pain starts.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding: One of the most common symptoms of cervical cancer is abnormal and severe vaginal bleeding. It generally occurs when cancer has spread to nearby tissues. If the bleeding is like normal spotting, there’s no need to worry, but if it appears differently and occurs in the manners mentioned here, women should consult a doctor at the earliest:
- Heavier and longer than usual menstrual periods
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Bleeding between menstrual periods
- Bleeding after menopause or a pelvic exam
- Heavy bleeding that causes dizziness and anemia-induced fatigue
Vaginal discharge with a foul smell: A lack of oxygen in the cervix due to cancer can cause some cells to die, infecting the tumor. This infection causes a foul-smelling vaginal discharge that serves is one of the early warning symptoms of cervical cancer. The discharge might be continuous, mixed with blood, or brown in color with a watery consistency.
Leg pain: When cancer grows and reaches the advanced stages, it starts pressing against the nerves of the pelvic wall, which causes leg pain and might even lead to swelling. Though swelling in the legs could be due to other medical problems or even sitting for long, cervical cancer can be the reason if it’s accompanied by pain.
Noticeable weight loss and loss of appetite: Sometimes, one might lose weight without intending to do so, and regardless of the amount of food that one consumes. This, in turn, might also reduce one’s appetite and is a sign that indicates cervical cancer.
Oncologists say that cervical cancer is common among women aged 35 years or above, so it’s advisable for women in this age group to get regular screenings to diagnose the common symptoms of cervical cancer at an early stage.