One of the deadliest types of gynecological cancer, cervical cancer, actually has a high rate of successful treatment if detected early. Cervical cancer is usually caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is highly contagious. HPV is sexually transmitted and comes in over 100 types, some of which can lead to cervical cancer development. If your immune system is strong, a HPV can disappear on its own; otherwise, it may trigger abnormal cell growth resulting in cervical malignancy.
7 SIGNS OF CERVICAL CANCER
Although cervical cancer does not produce obvious symptoms like breast cancer, it can still be detected early if you know what signs to look for.
In case you have any of the symptoms, visit a gynecologist instantly:
- Unusual discharge
Unusual discharge is a common symptom of this type of cancer because once the cancer starts growing inside the cervix, the cells of the uterine lining start secreting watery discharge.
In the words of gynecologist Rosa Maria Leme, “The appearance of small warts (external or internal) serves as a red flag for some diseases such as HPV, which greatly increases the chances of cervical cancer in women.”
- Pain or bleeding
Pelvic discomfort and bleeding are also typical signs of cervical cancer because the walls of the cervix dry out and even crack due to the abnormal cell growth. Rectal or bladder bleeding can also occur though in the more advanced stages. Any bleeding outside your menstrual period requires immediate medical attention.
Anemia often accompanies cervical cancer because it’s caused by excessive bleeding, another sign of this cancer. If your eating habits are the same, but you constantly feel tired, or your heartbeat increases even at the slightest effort, you should get examined for anemia and the reason behind it.
- Urinary problems
Difficulty urinating is another sign of cervical cancer that occurs as a result of swelling of the cervix, which presses the bladder and kidneys impeding the passage of urine. This results in inability to completely empty your bladder, pain while urinating and/or a urinary tract infection.
- Continuous pain in the legs, hips or back
A swollen cervix does not only affect your kidneys and bladder, but also your internal organs. For one thing, it may put pressure on the blood vessels and inhibit blood flow to the pelvis and legs, thus producing pain and swelling in the legs and ankles.
- Weight loss
Loss of appetite and weight accompanies most types of cancer. In the case of cervical cancer, the swollen cervix puts pressure on the stomach, leading to appetite and weight loss.
Note: It’s important to have in mind that these symptoms can also be produced by other conditions. However, reporting them to your gynecologist is vital for early detection.
There are a number of risk factors that can lead to contracting an HPV infection, found in both men and women.
The best-known risk factors for cervical cancer are:
- Smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke
- Having multiple sexual partners
- Having unprotected sex
- Having low immunity
As mentioned earlier, an HPV infection is the root cause of cervical cancer, so being able to read the warning signs and symptoms of HPV is critical for this cancer. Having regular Pap smear tests once or twice a year also increases your chances of early detection.