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Cervical Cancer

Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a type of gynecologic cancer that develops in the cervix. For many women, it isn’t diagnosed until it has progressed to an advanced stage. This is because cervical cancer usually doesn’t have symptoms until it has spread, making it harder to detect. Being infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) can increase your chances of being diagnosed with cervical cancer. Having regular screenings is the best way to detect it early.

Related Read: HPV and Cervical Cancer: What’s the Connection?  

The Most Common Signs of Cervical Cancer

The symptoms of cervical cancer usually begin after the cancer has spread. Because of this, it’s important to see your doctor for your annual gynecologic exam. Your annual exam includes a Pap test to look for cervical cancer cells. By finding it early, you may never experience any symptoms.

When signs and symptoms are present, the most common is abnormal vaginal bleeding. This can include: 

  • Blood spots or light bleeding between or following periods
  • Menstrual bleeding heavier or longer than normal
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse, douching, or a pelvic examination

Other signs of cervical cancer include: 

  • Increased vaginal discharge that may have a strong odor or appear watery
  • Pain during sex
  • Unexplained, persistent pelvic and/or back pain

Symptoms of Advanced Cervical Cancer

The common symptoms associated with late-stage cervical cancer are similar to the symptoms experienced in patients whose cancer is in its earliest stages. Advanced cancer means it has spread beyond the cervix to other parts of the body. 

Additional symptoms patients with advanced-stage cervical cancer may experience include:

  • Bowel movements that are difficult or painful
  • Bleeding from the rectum when having a bowel movement
  • Urination that is difficult or painful
  • Blood in the urine 
  • Dull backache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling in the legs 
  • Tiredness or fatigue

When to See a Doctor About Cervical Cancer Symptoms

Seeking medical attention is important if you experience persistent symptoms associated with cervical cancer. Having these symptoms doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer, but it’s a good idea to bring them to the attention of your gynecologist. Your doctor can perform the appropriate tests needed to determine the cause of your symptoms. After a thorough examination, your doctor can properly diagnose your condition, whether it is cervical cancer or another gynecologic condition.

When it comes to cervical cancer, early detection is key. Be sure you schedule your annual gynecologic checkup.

If you receive a cervical cancer diagnosis, Virginia Oncology Associates is here to provide you with the best possible care. With an integrated team-oriented approach, our gynecologic oncologists will work with you to create a cervical cancer treatment plan that meets your needs.