Cervical cancer may not have any symptoms in its early stages, and even if they do appear, they are mild and can only be detected by a doctor. In most cases, symptoms of cancer of the cervix become apparent only in the advanced stages, when the disease has spread to other parts of the body.
A few symptoms of cervical cancer may be similar to symptoms of other cervix problems, and therefore, they may be ignored in some cases. This may lead to a delayed diagnosis and a poor treatment prognosis.
Paying attention to the different signs and symptoms of cervical cancer and understanding the possible causes of cervical cancer can aid in the early detection and timely treatment of this condition.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers among women. The risk of cervical cancer is found to increase around the age of 45 and peak around the age of 55.
Those who have had an HPV infection for years have a higher chance of developing cervical cancer.
That said, anyone can get diagnosed with cervical cancer, and it is therefore important to undergo regular screening, which helps in the early detection and timely treatment of cervical cancer.
Not all women with cervical cancer experience the same symptoms. Being aware of the different symptoms of cervical cancer can help women seek medical attention at the right time and put themselves a step ahead of the disease. The following are some of the important cervix cancer signs and symptoms:
Women must keep an eye on abnormal vaginal bleeding, as this is one of the most common symptoms of cervical cancer. Bleeding between periods, bleeding after sexual intercourse, or bleeding after menopause are some of the signs of cervical cancer, and it is important to see a doctor for a definitive diagnosis.
Any changes in the vaginal discharge with respect to its volume, texture, odor, and color should not be ignored, as this is also one of the important stage 1 cervical cancer symptoms.
Women with cervical cancer may experience pain, which may range from a dull ache to pronounced discomfort. If this pain is persistent, one must see a doctor for a proper evaluation.
Women with cervical cancer may also experience pain during sexual intercourse, also known as dyspareunia. This may or may not be accompanied by abnormal bleeding. This symptom should not be ignored, as it is one of the most important signs of cervical cancer.
Pain and discomfort while urinating could also be cervix cancer early symptoms. That said, painful urination can be caused by other problems too, and therefore, it is advised to see a doctor for a proper evaluation. This could be one of the stage 2 cervical cancer symptoms.
Women with cervical cancer may experience menstrual irregularities, namely heavier periods, prolonged periods, and bleeding between periods. In such cases, women must seek immediate medical attention.
As the disease progresses, women with cervical cancer may experience unintended weight loss and extreme tiredness. This could be one of the cervical cancer stage 3 symptoms.
The symptoms of cervical cancer may vary depending on the type of cancer. The following are the possible symptoms of different types of cervical cancer:
Squamous cell carcinoma may present with symptoms like vaginal bleeding, pain during intercourse, changes in the vaginal discharge, and discomfort in the pelvic region.
This type of cervical cancer may present with unusual vaginal discharge and pain and discomfort in the pelvic region.
Adenosquamous carcinomas can present with symptoms of both squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas. Women with adenosquamous carcinomas may experience vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge, pain, and discomfort in the pelvic region.
This rare type of cervical cancer may cause symptoms like bleeding, discomfort, and pain.
Women with neuroendocrine carcinoma of the cervix experience abnormal vaginal discharge and bleeding, pelvic pain, and pain during intercourse.
Presently, the exact cause of cervical cancer is unknown. However, over the years, a few factors that can increase the risk of cervical cancer have been identified.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is one of the biggest risk factors for cervical cancer, and it could be one of the potential causes of cervical cancer.
Becoming sexually active at a young age is also found to increase cervical cancer risk in women.
Smoking is one of the potential causes of cervical cancer, as tobacco contains harmful chemicals that can weaken the immune system and make one more susceptible to HPV infection.
Although the connection between long-term use of oral contraceptives and cervical cancer risk is not fully understood, it is also observed to be one of the possible risk factors or possible causes of cervical cancer.
Multiple full-term pregnancies are also considered one of the possible causes of cervical cancer.
Having multiple sexual partners is also found to increase one’s chances of developing cervical cancer due to increased exposure to the HPV virus.
Women who are exposed to diethylstilbestrol in utero (prenatal exposure) have a higher chance of being diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Having a positive family history of cervical cancer or having certain inherited genetic disorders that are associated with cervical cancer development can increase one’s chances of developing cervical cancer.
A lack of awareness, low levels of education and income, and limited access to healthcare may possibly increase one’s risk of developing cervical cancer.
A weaker immune system, which may be caused by certain diseases like HIV/AIDS, can also be a reason for cervical cancer.
Poor hygiene practices may also become a risk factor for cervical cancer.
Certain signs and symptoms of cancer of the cervix are similar to those of other less serious gynecological problems. However, it is important not to ignore the different signs of cervical cancer, especially if they last for more than two weeks or begin to worsen. Promptly seeing a doctor in such cases can support an early diagnosis and timely treatment of cervical cancer.
We may not know the exact cause of cervical cancer at this point in time. However, we do know that certain factors can increase cervical cancer risk in women. Learning about these risk factors, along with the different early signs of cervical cancer and other important symptoms of cervical cancer, can help women become cancer-aware and put themselves a step ahead of cervical cancer.