Cervical cancer is completely treatable and preventable, but only if detected early on in its development. Tests such as pap smears have helped bring down the number of deaths attributed to this sexually transmitted infection; yet the ignorance of early warning signs leads to many deaths- deaths which can be completely avoided with just a little bit of information and vigilance.
Cervical cancer is an infection caused by the human papillomavirus, which comes in many types and few of which cause cancer. The symptoms of this disease are a lot more subtle than some other cancers, but can be clearly spotted nonetheless to save lives. Here are 8 signs of cervical cancer that women need to observe and watch out for.
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1. Unusual Bleeding
The most common of all early onset symptoms, unusual bleeding between menstrual cycles or following sexual intercourse can signal trouble. This symptom becomes even more important in post-menopausal women.
2. Unusual Discharge
It is normal for women to have a nominal amount of clear and odorless discharge. But watch out for foul smelling and irregular looking discharge, particularly if it is increased in output as this could be an early sign of cervical cancer.
3. Pain in the Legs and Lower Back
With swelling up of the cervix, blood flow to the legs and lower back can get obstructed. Tis often results in pain and swelling in the legs and lower back with a sore, painful sensation. Swollen ankles and pain in the hips too can be attributed to this factor and must not be ignored.
4. Pelvic Pain
Cramps and pain in the pelvis is not unusual for women, especially at certain points of their menstrual cycle. But if this pain is more acute or frequent, lasts longer than usual, or comes at a strange point in your cycle, then you are better off booking a checkup with your doctor.
5. Uncomfortable Sex
Painful sex, referred to as dyspareunia, is a common side effect of cervical cancer and can be attributed to the swelling and discomfort caused by the infection, as well as other medical conditions associated with it. If you are experiencing uncomfortable or painful sex, waste no time in getting a thorough check up.
6. Discomfort in Urination
Urinary symptoms indicate that the cancer has spread to a nearby tissue and must not be ignored. Stinging sensations or other discomfort when passing urine is a clear sign or trouble, as is irregular urinary habits such as incontinence, change of frequency and discoloration (especially with blood).
7. Irregular Menstrual Cycle
Your menstrual cycle can directly reflect the rhythms and state of your body, and as such cervical cancer can cause fluctuations and disruptions in it. Any marked inconsistencies can be a sign of cervical cancer and are best not ignored.
8. Undue Loss of Weight and Fatigue
Coupled with the other signs listed above, drastic and unexplained weight loss and fatigue can signal cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can cause a rise in white blood cell count to fight the infection; this can be accompanied by a drop in the red blood cell count in the blood, leading to anemia and resulting in a lack of energy or appetite, weight loss and fatigue.