Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
Forty years ago, cervical cancer was the number one cause of cancer deaths among women. Thanks to preventative screening techniques like pap smears, the incidence of the disease has decreased considerably since the 1970s. Nevertheless, in 2008, over 12,000 women were diagnosed with the disease in the United States, and over 4,000 women died.
Cervical cancer symptoms frequently mimic the signs of other diseases. The disease is frequently asymptomatic in its earliest stages. Some patients may notice changes in their bowel habits, resulting in either constipation or diarrhea, accompanied by abdominal distention, flatulence and nausea. Most women will not make the connection between these signs and cancer of the cervix, however. If these symptoms persist, it’s advisable to consult with a health care practitioner.
Patients suffering from more advanced stages of of cervical cancer may notice:
- Changes in their menstrual cycle. Cancer of the cervix can be accompanied by either heavier or lighter periods.
- Vaginal bleeding. This is the most common symptom of cancer of the cervix. The bleeding can take many forms. Some women report heavy spotting between menstrual periods, or even vaginal bleeding so heavy that it seems to be an additional period. Other women report bleeding after sexual intercourse or when inserting a diaphragm.
- Pelvic pain during sexual intercourse. Pain may be experienced as muscle spasms or cramps. It may also take the form of deep thrust pain, located in the area of the cervix.
- Foul smelling discharge from the vagina. Vaginal discharge is present in many different types of diseases. Vaginal discharge associated with cancer of the cervix is typically watery and blood tinged.
- Urinary symptoms. Some patients report a change in their urination habits. There may be a change in the frequency of urination or in the consistency of the urine itself. Some women report low back pain, similar to the pain that’s caused by kidney infections.
- Anemia. Vaginal bleeding may be so heavy that women become anemic.
- Lethargy and fatigue. All types of cancer in their advanced stages are typically associated with a loss of appetite and a persistent feeling of fatigue.