Cervical cancer symptoms
Cervical cancer symptoms can mimic so many other medical conditions and can go unnoticed. Many women pass these symptoms off as PMS or ovulation pains, for example. When symptoms of cervical cancer are present, they usually do not appear until the cancer is more advanced. Many times, however, cervical cancer has no symptoms. This does vary from woman to woman. Symptoms of cancer of the cervix include:
Abnormal bleeding - Bleeding can be heavy or light during the month.
Irregular bleeding - Bleeding between regular menstrual periods, after sexual intercourse, douching, or pelvic exam may indicate irritation of the cervix during these activities. While a healthy cervix may have a very small amount of bleeding, many conditions may cause bleeding after activities like sex.
Pain during urination - Bladder pain or pain during urination can be a symptom of advanced cervical cancer and usually occurs when cancer has spread to the bladder.
Pelvic pain - Pelvic pain that is not related to the normal menstrual cycle can range from a dull ache to sharp pains that can last hours. Pelvic pain can be mild or severe.
Unusual heavy discharge - Increased vaginal discharge may be foul smelling, watery, thick, or contain mucus and varies from woman to woman.
Later symptoms of cervical cancer
Symptoms that may occur when cervical cancer has progressed include:
When to seek help
It usually takes several years for normal cells in the cervix to turn into cancer cells. Therefore, contact your doctor anytime you suspect that symptoms may be caused by cervical problems. Your doctor can identify abnormal cells in the cervix by performing regular Pap tests which examine cells from the cervix under a microscope.
By getting regular Pap tests and pelvic exams you can find and treat changing cells before they turn into cancer. To learn more about this diagnostic process, read about which cervical cancer tests doctors use in the Diagnosing Cervical Cancer section that follows.