Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, which is the lower, narrow opening of the uterus.
Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which spreads through sexual contact.
Cervical cancer is a slow-growing malignancy, so by the time the symptoms show up, it’s usually more advanced.
The good news is that a yearly pap test can help with the early detection of changes in your cervical cells.
Since cancer takes several years to develop, regular screenings can help ensure you don’t have any abnormalities in the cervix.
What’s equally important is to be aware of the warning signs of this ‘silent killer’.
Symptoms of cervical cancer are vague, and the disease may not cause any symptoms until it is at a later stage. This makes the illness tricky to detect early.
Bleeding or spotting
An untimely bout of bleeding—including bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause—can be an indicator of cervical cancer.
This also includes heavier-than-usual menstrual bleeding, longer-than-usual menstrual bleeding, bleeding after a pelvic exam, or bleeding after douching.
While having vaginal discharge that’s clear to milky white or slightly yellowish in colour is completely normal, changes in colour, consistency and/or odour should be investigated.
Vaginal discharge that is cloudy, watery and foul-smelling is one of the most commonly reported symptoms among people with ovarian cancer.
Persistent pelvic pain
A “persistent back pain” in your lower back, between your hip bones (pelvis), or in your lower abdomen, below the belly button can be linked to problems with the reproductive organs which include the cervix.
The pain may be sharp or crampy (like menstrual cramps) and may come and go.
Pain during intercourse
The growth of malignant cells through the surrounding tissue of the cervix is often linked to pain during intercourse.
You may experience incessant pain from sex if the cancer is at an advanced stage and has spread to other parts of the body.
That said, the pain can mean many non-serious things as well—inflammation of the cervix, vaginal infection or cervical polyp—which is why that’s something you really need to have checked out for ruling out advanced-stage cervical cancer.
Unexplained weight loss
As with many cancers, unexplained weight loss is a sign observed in most cases of cervical cancer.
If you are not following any diet trend or are not trying to shed kilos, this is actually a red flag and it’s worth mentioning to your doctor.
Loss of Appetite
With ovarian cancer, women sometimes feel full without even eating. If you suddenly lose your appetite without changing your diet or increasing exercise, consult your doctor.
Although fatigue is a broad symptom that can come and go; severe tiredness and exhaustion are common and distressing symptoms of cervical cancer.
Unexplained high fatigue where even the simplest tasks can seem draining if experienced, should not be ignored.
Leg swelling or pain
Swelling in the leg that is accompanied by pain could be a warning sign of cervical cancer, though it could also be a symptom of various medical issues.
As cancer grows, it can put pressure on the veins in the leg, resulting in leg pain and sometimes swelling.
But it’s wise to schedule an appointment with your doctor to get checked.
Ovarian cancer has emerged as one of the most common gynaecological malignancies in Indian women.
However, its survival rates are high when diagnosed early.
If you observe any of the above-mentioned symptoms, consult your doctor immediately as it can be a sign of an impending health concern.
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