Cervical cancer is one of the leading types of cancers affecting women worldwide. It takes place in the cells found at the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina or commonly known as the cervix.
Many women already died from cervical cancer. In fact, in 2015, the American Cancer Society estimated diagnosing about 12,900 new cases of cancer and about 4,100 women were then expected to die from the said disease. The estimation was pretty high but shockingly true.
It is difficult to determine cervical cancer most especially when it is at its early stages.
Most of the cervical cancer cases doctors handled were caused by the virus human papillomavirus (HPV). And if you think you are young enough to suffer from this cancer, then you are wrong. Any women who started being sexually active are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Other risk factors include unprotected sex, having multiple sex partners, being overweight, use of oral contraceptives, genetics, poor immunity, multiple pregnancies and first pregnancy at a young age, and smoking.
The terrifying part of having a cervical cancer is you’ll never know you have one until the cancer cells have already spread to other parts of your body. It does not show any symptoms in its early stages, but after it reaches the bladder, liver, intestines or lungs, the signs will become more prominent.
Adult women should consult their doctors immediately once they notice symptoms affecting their reproductive organs or once they see unusual changes in their sexual parts. Bear in mind that cervical cancer can be treated if it is detected in its early stages. Getting Pap tests and acquiring HPV vaccinations can possibly treat as well as prevent cervical cancer.
But here are 10 warning signs of cervical cancer you should never ignore.
Knowing these 10 warning signs of cervical cancer, you can save yourself and others from suffering from the disease. If you notice one or more of these signs, then it’s time to set an appointment with your specialist.
#1. Abnormal Bleeding Of The Vagina
The regular occurrence of vaginal bleeding could be an indicator of having cervical cancer, but it could also be a side effect of other medical condition like hormonal imbalance, pelvic inflammatory disease or an infection in the pelvic organs. So to be sure, consult with your doctor once you experience bleeding between your menstrual cycles or after a sexual intercourse.
This cancer spreads to nearby tissues. As it progresses, it will create new, abnormal capillaries that break easily which will cause the bleeding. This bleeding happens between menstrual periods, after sex, after menopause and even after a pelvic exam.
#2. Unusual Vaginal Discharge
Clear and odorless discharge of small amounts are normal. But if you notice the discharge increasing, becoming smelly and comes with an irregular appearance, then it could be a sign of infection or cervical cancer.
Women with cervical cancer will notice their vaginal discharge becoming heavy, pale, brownish, water or mixed with blood. If you see these symptoms, take a trip to the hospital immediately.
#3. Weird Pain During Intercourse
Experiencing a painful intercourse is another warning sign of cervical cancer. This could indicate advanced cervical cancer, which means the disease might have already spread throughout tissues and reproductive organs. But apart from pain, you may also notice other related symptoms such as thick and foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
This pain might also be a symptom of another disease though like STD or a simple infection. Such pain should not be ignored and requires immediate cervix examination.
#4. Pelvic Pain
It is common for women to feel pain in the pelvic area. Cramps and aches really happen as a part of the menstrual cycle, but if the pain occurs more frequently and lasts for longer periods, then it could be a sign of cervical cancer.
Women with cervical cancer experience pelvic pain at unusual times. This may happen anytime in a month, even after a menstrual period. This could indicate that the cancer is already at a very advanced stage. So if you feel pain or pressure in your pelvis, visiting the doctor is the best way to find out what’s causing.
#5. Discomfort While Urinating
Like UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), STD, yeast infection and bladder problem, if you have cervical cancer, you will also experience discomfort during urination. This is actually one of the most obvious signs of cervical cancer.
The discomforts you feel while urinating include burning, stinging or a tight sensation. These symptoms occur when the cancer has spread to nearby tissues. Immediate treatment is needed to prevent further damage.
#6. Heavier and Longer Menstrual Periods
Heavier and longer menstrual period are uncommon signs of cervical cancer. But such a thing happens when the cervical cancer is already spreading, causing cervix irritation.
You will notice that your bleeding is heavier than the usual when you have to change your sanitary napkin more often than once every 2 hours. But heavy bleeding can also be associated to hormonal imbalance, polyps, pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, endometriosis or thyroid, liver or kidney disease. It can also happen because of certain medications. Discuss your condition with your doctor to be sure.
#7. Loss of Bladder Control
Urinating very often is common only among pregnant women and those who have increased their fluid intake. So if you notice this problem, then it’s time to be examined by your doctor.
Women with cervical cancer have issues of controlling their urination. This could be an indication that the cancer spread through the bladder and other parts of the urinary tract. It can also come with bleeding while you urinate.
#8. Unexplained Weight Loss
Any cancer causes patients to lose weight drastically. The immune system is working hard to fight cancer, hence causing unexplained drop in weight.
The body produces small proteins known as cytokines, which is responsible in breaking down fat at a much higher rate than normal. This will then lead to weight loss, irrespective of your diet.
#9. Constant Fatigue
When you feel tired all the time and feel like you’ve lost all your energy despite resting, then it could be a sign of a serious health problem. Cancer causes healthy red blood cells to be replaced by white blood cells to fight off the disease. This will lead to anemia, fatigue, lack of energy and loss of appetite. You will also experience decrease of oxygen supply to the body. This anemic response is a warning sign that cervical cancer is progressing rapidly and needs quick treatment.
#10. Leg Pain
Women suffering from cervical cancer will experience swelling and pain in their legs pretty often. When the cancer cells spread, it will obstruct the blood flow, causing swelling in the legs. In turn, swollen legs will cause a sore and painful sensation that will later make it difficult for patients to carry out their day-to-day activities.
Furthermore, the pain will be more constant and its intensity will increase over time. Back pains will soon follow.
Cervical cancer is a very deadly disease, so whenever you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, be sure to go to your doctor immediately.
These are just some of the most important warning signs of cervical cancer. To prevent going on clueless about your condition, women between 20 and 30 years old should get a screening from their doctors every three years. Those who are between 30 to 65 years old should be screened every three to five years. Also get an HPV vaccination before your early 20s. You might also want to stop smoking or avoid secondhand smoke. Preventing STD will also mean reducing your risk of cervical cancer.
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