Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer
Signs Of Cervix Cancers

signs of cervix cancer


Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer


What Are The Signs Of Cervical Cancer?
Early Symptoms
Signs of Advanced Cancer
What If I Have Symptoms?

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Cervical Cancer

What Are The Signs Of Cervical Cancer?

The early stage of cervix cancer is called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). It is also known as dysplasia and squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL). CIN affects nearly 50,000 American women a year and is considered a precursor to cancer. It is characterized by abnormal cell growth on the cervix indicating precancerous or cancerous cells, depending on the grade. A low grade CIN grows very slowly over time and typically resolves (cures) of its own accord. High grade CINs can lead to cervical cancer without treatment in 30 to 50 percent of cases. The sooner CIN or any other cervical cancer stages can be diagnosed, the better the opportunity for treatment and life expectancy (see cervical cancer survival rates). The main problem however is that CIN rarely produces any symptoms, so in most cases it will only be discovered during a routine Pap smear test screening. Currently 11 percent of American women do not have Pap test screenings which put them at greater risk.

Early Symptoms

If early symptoms do occur they are likely to include:

Vaginal Discharge

Some women experience a watery blood-stained vaginal discharge which they might not even notice. It may be more apparent as a streak of light blood smeared on toilet paper after wiping the vagina. Or the woman may notice a slightly foul smell. A small amount of odorless milky white discharge is normal and healthy. However when discharges change in amount, appearance or smell this usually signifies a problem - although in most instances it is usually something relatively harmless like vaginitis or yeast infections (known as thrush in the UK). If you do notice any unusual discharges ask your doctor to check it for you. He will perform a pelvic examination and may even take a sample of the discharge to send to labs for testing. If a smear test has not been recently carried out, he will perform this too. See also: Signs of yeast infections.

Irregular Vaginal Bleeding

If a woman still has periods, irregular vaginal bleedings are where spotting or heavier bleeding occurs between periods. It may be particularly noted:
• After sexual intercourse.
• During or after douching.

Most abnormal bleeds are the result of anatomical abnormalities such as uterine fibroids, vaginal dryness, PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), ovarian cysts or endometriosis. Less commonly is it caused by cervix or endometrial (uterine) cancer (occasionally but very rarely by cancer of the vagina or vulva cancer). Women who experience spotting after sexual intercourse are usually checked first for cervicitis, cervical polyps and vaginal atrophy and then cervical cancer. Another common cause of spotting in premenopausal women is contraceptive use. Oral contraceptives can cause breakthrough bleeding - those that continue to do so after 3 menstrual cycles should be replaced by a higher dose. Sometimes obesity can be the culprit. Obese women naturally produce more estrogen which can lead to the development of endometrial hyperplasia, a condition that can cause bleeding and may, like CIN, be a precursor to cancer (in this instance endometrial cancer).

All vaginal bleeding in postmenopause women is taken seriously by doctors. In fact they will assume it is cancer unless diagnosed otherwise. This is because 30 percent of cases do turn out to be cancer. 98 percent of those cancers will be either cervical or endometrial cancer. However it is important to note that certain medications can cause light bleeding. Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) for example can cause light bleeding for up to 6 months after beginning therapy. Additionally women who take daily dosages of estrogen combined with progestin for 10 to 12 days a month can experience light bleeding when the progestin is withdrawn. This is quite harmless. Read also about, what causes brown spotting?

Signs of Advanced Cancer

Symptoms may include any of the following:

Heavier Vaginal Bleeding
As cancer grows undetected light spotting turns to bleeding until eventually the bleeding is constant.

Pelvic Pain
The woman becomes aware of a persistent pain in the pelvic region which is not related to physical activity or menstruation. Pain can range from a dull constant ache to sharp pains which last a few minutes to several hours. Pain may also be experienced during or directly after sexual intercourse.

Pain During Urination
Any bladder pain or burning pain caused by urination can be a sign of advanced cervix cancer. It usually only occurs if the tumor has spread to the bladder. At this stage there may even be blood in the urine.

Leg Pain
If the tumor has grown large enough to put pressure on the pelvic wall, uterus and nerves it can cause leg pain. Swelling in one or both legs can also occur if lymph nodes and blood vessels become blocked.

Lower Back Pain
Persistent lower back pain can be caused by advanced stages of the disease.

How Is It Treated? See: Cervical cancer treatment
What Are The Causes? See Cervical cancer causes
Can I Prevent The Disease? See Cervical cancer prevention.

What If I Have Symptoms?

If you experience any of the above symptoms (and it is not normal for you to do so), make an appointment with a healthcare provider. The diagnostic process is relatively straight forward and initially a Pap test and pelvic examination should be able to allay any fears you have. In the vast amount of cases, cancer will not be found. Before you visit your doctor keep a note of your symptoms, note how long you have been experiencing them, how often they occur and rate the severity from 1 to 10 (10 being the most severe). The more concrete information you can provide, the more accurate the diagnosis possible. See Cervical cancer diagnosis.

  Related Articles on Cervix Tumors

For more guides, see the following:

Cancer Guide
Does Cancer Hurt?
Cervical Cancer Recurrence

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