There are usually no symptoms of cervical cancer at first and in most cases it is identified by a pap smear, apart from during the advanced stages where the symptoms are noticeable. Thus, in addition to knowing the symptoms of cervical cancer, the most important thing is to frequently consult the gynaecologist who will perform a pap smear so as to begin treatment early.
Here are signs of cervical that are noticeable:
- Vaginal bleeding without apparent cause and not during menstruation
- Altered vaginal discharge, with bad smell or brown coloration
- Constant abdominal or pelvic pain, which can worsen when using the bathroom or during intimate contact
- Feeling of pressure at the bottom of the belly
- Willingness to urinate more frequently, even at night
- Rapid weight loss without dieting
In the most severe cases, when the woman has advanced cervical cancer, other symptoms that may arise include excessive tiredness, pain and swelling in the legs, as well as involuntary excretion of urine or faeces.
These signs and symptoms may also be caused by other underlying conditions such as candidiasis or vaginal infection and they may not necessarily be related to cancer. It is therefore advisable to consult the gynaecologist who will make the correct diagnosis.
What to do in case of suspicion
When more than one of these symptoms are experienced it is advisable to go to the gynaecologist who will do diagnostic tests such as pap smear or colposcopy biopsy of the tissue of the uterus, so as to evaluate if there are any cancer cells.
Pap smear should be performed every year for up to 3 consecutive years. The examination should only be performed 3 times in 3 years if there is no change.
Who is most at risk of cancer?
Uterine cancer is more frequent in women with:
- Sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea
- HPV infection
- Having multiple sexual partners
Moreover, women who have been using oral contraceptives for many years also have a higher risk or getting cancer. The longer the time of use, the higher the risk of cancer.
How treatment is done
Usually, treatment for uterine cancer is done with conisation, brachytherapy or radiotherapy. If these approaches are not enough to cure the disease, one can resort to removing the uterus only if the woman no longer wishes to have children, so as to avoid worsening of the disease.