Cervical Cancer – Early Signs of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is diagnosed when a cancerous tumor is developed in a woman’s cervix, which is the entrance to the uterus from the vagina. One of the major causes of this disease is the transmission of human papillomaviruses also commonly known as HPV. 99% of the cases have HPV which is transmitted through sexual contact (anal, vaginal, or oral). It is also the fourth most common illness diagnosed in women.

What is a cervix?

The cervix is the entrance of your uterus (where a baby grows during pregnancy). It resembles a donut and connects your uterus to the opening of your vagina. It is covered in cell-based tissues. These healthy cells are what can develop into pre-cancer cells.

Types of Cervical Cancer

There are three different types of cervical cancer. They are determined based on how they look under the microscope when tested. Nine out of ten are squamous cell carcinomas. Squamous cell carcinomas are most commonly found in the transformation zone (where the exocervix joins the endocervix). Another type of this illness is known as adenocarcinomas. It is a type of cancer that develops from glandular cells. Adenocarcinomas grow from a gland that produces mucus in the endocervix, which is the inner part of the cervix. However, rarely do some cancers have both qualities of squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas. This type of cancer is called mixed carcinomas.

Common Indications of Cervical Cancer

A cervix precancerous lesion rarely causes any signs or symptoms. Early-stage cervical cancer usually causes symptoms or signs. The symptoms of advanced cervical cancer, which is cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, may be more severe depending on the tissues and organs affected.

A symptom or sign may be caused by a medical condition other than cancer, which is why people should seek medical attention if they have a new symptom or sign that does not go away.

One of the major concerns about the illness is detecting the signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms are not easily visible in the early stages in this case. Sometimes, it even takes years for even the first signs to show. Therefore, one of the best ways to diagnose this to detect abnormal cells with regular cancer screenings.

Some of the earliest signs and symptoms to spot the first stage of cervical cancer are:

  1. Vaginal bleeding or painful intercourse, bleeding in between menstrual cycle or post menopause
  2. Menstrual bleeding can continue for a longer period of time or/and heavier than healthy periods
  3. Vaginal discharge may be heavier or even watery with an extremely foul odour.

If the cancer is not detected after noticing these signs, it is highly likely to spread to nearby lymph nodes and eventually other organs and then will experience symptoms like-

  1. Fatigue, loss of appetite which will eventually lead to extreme weight loss.
  2. Diarrhea or bloody rectum while pooping.
  3. Painful urination and blood in the urine.
  4. Swelling in your legs and back pain
  5. A general feeling of sickness and lethargy
  6. Abdominal and pelvic pain

If one experiences any of the above-mentioned symptoms or any kind of unusual symptoms, it is necessary to visit a gynecologist for a complete medical check-up including a pap test which will help in diagnosing the cancer.

Why Diagnosing is Important?

Cervical cancer grows gradually and over a long period of time. The cells in your cervix go through a series of changes before they become cancerous. Cells in your cervix that were once normal begin to appear irregular or abnormal. These abnormal cells may disappear, remain unchanged, or develop into cancer cells. Therefore, it is important to visit a gynecologist for regular screening of pap test or pap smear which detects precancerous cells in the cervix. HPV tests are also very helpful in detecting precancerous cells in the cervix, as it helps in detecting the high-risk types of HPV, which can most likely cause cervical cancer. It is also recommended to get HPV vaccinations to prevent the infection altogether.

Cervical cancer, if diagnosed at an early stage, is also one of the most easily treatable cancers. Being diagnosed with cancer can feel overwhelmingly scary. It is important to seek the right medical support and have loved ones around you to help you win this battle.