Four decades ago cervical cancer was a major death risk for women, mainly because by the time this form of cancer enters its later stages, it has very few obvious outward symptoms. Nowadays it can be detected early with pap smear tests and education about warning signs, dropping the death rate of this disease significantly. It's recommended that you learn the warning signs and risk factors associated with cervical cancer, to help prevent this deadly disease from winning.
Factors that increase your risk for cervical cancer
10 warning sign symptoms
Unfortunately, the early stages of cervical cancer lack both visual and physical symptoms. In the onset stages these are the typical symptoms:
1. Leg pain - Some women experience swelling and pain in their legs. This can even be in the early stages. What happens is that the cervix swells, leading to an obstructed blood flow, causing the leg to swell and a feel a painful sensation.
2. Vaginal discharge – Normally women will have small amounts of clear, odorless discharge. If the amount increases accompanied by an unpleasant smell and an irregular occurrence, this could signify the onset of cervical cancer.
3. Unexplained vaginal bleeding – This is the most common of all the symptoms. If a woman has vaginal bleeding outside of her period or if she is postmenopausal, this can indicate cervical cancer. If one experiences ongoing bleeding in between menstrual periods or after sexual intercourse, contact your physician.
4. Discomfort during urination – This more obvious symptom is described as a tight and concentrating stinging sensation when urinating, although it can feature other discomforting sensations. It’s important to keep track of your urinal patterns. If there are urinary symptoms, it can mean the cancer has spread to nearby tissue and you should consult with a physician for immediate attention.
5. Irregular urination – Changes in your urinary frequency and appearance can indicate cervical cancer. If you notice more frequent urination, your urine is discolored or with blood, or there are noticeable changes to your regular routine and the development of incontinence (loss of bladder control) you should seek medical input from a professional.
6. Pelvic pain – Although a fairly routine burden of being a women, if pains and cramps last for long bouts frequently, with pain more intense than regular and outside your menstrual period, this should be looked at by your doctor.
7. Back pain – This is a common symptom that can happen for a number of reasons, however if this is experienced along with a number of the other symptoms on this list, you should go for a medical check-up.
8. Irregular monthly cycles – Your monthly periods should reach a consistent level with characteristic symptoms after adolescence and if you notice a change in the regular routine, whether in frequency or symptoms, it’s best to contact a physician.
9. Painful intercourse – Discomfort during sex is called dyspareunia, and this unpleasant side effect can be a sign of cervical cancer. If it’s not cervical cancer it is still commonly linked to a disease and should be tended to by medical professionals.
10. Loss weight & fatigue – cervical cancer can deplete the number of healthy red blood cells because there will be a higher presence of white blood cells fighting the disease. This results in anemia, which leads to lower energy levels and weight loss. If you suddenly feel tired and lose weight for no reason, it doesn't automatically means you have cervical cancer, but if accompanied by other symptoms on this list it could serve as a warning sign. In either scenario if you have unexplained weight loss and fatigue, talk to your doctor.
Unfortunately cervical cancer is hard to treat because too often it’s detected too late. The good news is that cervical cancer can be prevented with knowledge and save practices:
Pap smears – These tests are the best way to screen for the disease. Women ages 20 to 30 should have a test every 3 years. From ages 30 to 65 every 3 to 5 years and women over 65 years don’t need screening if they’ve had 3 tests in a row with regular results.
HPV vaccine – Medical professionals recommend both men and women have this vaccine to prevent the disease that leads to cervical cancer.
Don’t smoke – Even secondhand smoke can increase the risk of contracting cervical cancer.
Protection against STDs – HPV can be deceptively asymptomatic. If you don’t have a firm grasp of your partner’s sexual history, and haven’t been tested together, always use protection.