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Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Many women ask what are the symptoms of cervical cancer? It can be a tricky question to answer because cervical cancer symptoms are similar to many other conditions such as ovarian cancer symptoms, endometriosis symptoms and uterine cancer symptoms. Also, symptoms of cervical cancer don't always show up in the early stages of the disease. It is very common for women with cervical cancer to have no symptoms at all, especially in the beginning. As the disease progresses the symptoms of cervical cancer often become more specific and obvious.

Not all women will have the same signs of cervical cancer. The number and severity of symptoms will vary from one woman to the next. Some women might mistakenly think their cervical cancer symptoms are part of their normal menstrual cycle. When they are present, the most common cervical cancer symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, pelvic pain, and pain while urinating or after sex. Low grade fever is another one of the signs of cervical cancer that some women experience.

Unusual bleeding may be the most often reported of all cervical cancer symptoms. If your periods are flowing heavier or lighter than usual and this continues for more than a few months it may be one of the signs of cervical cancer. Bleeding between periods or having your period two times during one month should also be considered unusual if it happens more than once. Many women with cervical cancer also report bleeding during or right after having sex. Another one of the possible symptoms of cervical cancer is bleeding after menopause.

Abnormal vaginal discharge is also one of the symptoms of cervical cancer that women experience. Excessive or frequent discharge as often as every day has been reported. Fluids range from colorless to milky white, to brown or streaked with blood. Foul smelling or solid, "cheesy" discharge has also been reported by women with cervical cancer symptoms.

Pelvic pain or abdominal pain that occurs not at the time of her monthly cycle is one of the possible signs of cervical cancer. Some women may experience very intense pain while others may have only slight aches. Pain that is severe or shooting should not be taken lightly, especially when it is sudden. The location of the pain may be felt in the lower back, the legs, abdomen or sides. Discomfort or pain with sexual intercourse or urination are also common symptoms of cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer Symptoms

  • periods that are heavier or lighter than normal
  • bleeding outside your normal cycle
  • post-menopausal bleeding
  • bleeding that occurs after sexual intercourse
  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • pelvic pain
  • burning or painful urination

Other cervical cancer symptoms and signs

  • low grade fever or chills
  • frequent tiredness
  • bloated abdomen

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is the presence of cancerous cell growth in the cervix, located at the lower part of the uterus. Normally healthy cells in the cervix become cancerous (malignant) as a result of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection or from other causes. Cervical cancer screening can detect pre-cancerous growth early on and help avoid the need for surgery and or chemotherapy. The disease may be prevented by various means including regular pap smears, cervical cancer vaccine, condoms, and not smoking. Some studies have found consuming lots of vegetables and certain vitamins to be helpful in prevention.

Who is affected by cervical cancer?

Women all around the world from every ethnicity are affected by cervical cancer. In the United States it is less of a problem for women than in other countries primarily because of cervical cancer screening programs. Still, more than 10,000 women in the U.S. each year will get the disease, and about a third of those women will die from it. About three times as many cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in Europe, and nearly half of those will be fatal. Ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer are two other gynecological diseases with a higher incidence in women than cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer Causes

You may be wondering what are the causes of cervical cancer or how do you get cervical cancer? You should know that there is a strong link between HPV and cervical cancer. Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) it is believed. Sexual intercourse is the typical way for HPV to spread, but it can also be transmitted by oral sex, anal sex, and close contact of the genitals (either same sex or different sex).

Not all types of HPV will cause cervical cancer, some may result in genital warts. HPV can show up in a person several years after having sex with someone who is infected. A very small number of cases of cervical cancer have no known cause but may be associated with other sexual transmitted diseases (STD's), smoking, a genetic predisposition, stress, nutrition, and certain hormonal drugs.

Cervical Cancer Stages

Cervical cancer stages are used to define how far the cancer has progressed in the body. In the earliest stage of development cells in the cervix are abnormal but pre-cancerous. In the next stage (Stage 1) the cells have become cancerous but are confined to just the cervix. In cervical cancer stages 2 and 3 the disease has spread beyond the cervix to nearby tissues in the uterus and vagina and sometimes the lymph nodes. In stage 4, cervical cancer has spread to other organs of the body including the bladder, rectum, liver, intestinal tract and other parts of the abdomen, and lungs.

Cervical Cancer Treatment

The cervical cancer vaccine (Gardasil) can be a successful treatment if given in the pre-cancerous stage of the disease. Fortunately, the pre-cancerous stage can last a long time before cancer has developed. This is why it is critical for women to have regular cervical cancer screening to catch the disease before it has advanced.

Once cancer has developed, cervical cancer treatment depends on which of the stages is present, how large the cancerous growth is, and the woman's general health. If pregnancy is a future goal for the patient that factor may also be considered into the treatment plan. In the early stages of cervical cancer hysterectomy is the usual procedure. In later stages, the lymph nodes are also removed. Other procedures are possible to preserve the uterus for childbearing if that is the woman's desire. Later stages of cervical cancer require radiation in addition to surgery, and very advanced stages add chemotherapy as well.

Cervical Cancer Survival Rates

Cervical cancer survival rates estimate the odds of a woman living five years after being diagnosed with the disease. Overall, cervical cancer statistics show that the prognosis is good for women in the early stages of the disease, and much less so for those in the later stages. Women in stage 1 of the disease have cervical cancer survival rates that range from 80 to 99 percent. About 66 percent, or two-thirds of women in stage 2 are expected to live five years or more. Stage 3 patients have cervical cancer survival rates around 40 percent. In stage 4 of the disease about 15 to 20 percent of women will survive five years following diagnosis, according to cervical cancer statistics.

Remember, if you have any of the symptoms of cervical cancer take action right away! Don't think your symptoms will go away on their own.

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