Cervical cancers effects around 13,000 women each year in the U.S. and just over 4,200 women passed away from the disease in 2017 alone. Fortunately, cervical cancer is highly preventable thanks to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. HPV is an extremely common virus that is transmitted through direct sexual contact. In addition to HPV, causes of cervical cancer include:
- Multiple sexual partners
- Contraceptive use
- History of sexual transmitted infections (STI)
- Having multiple children
- Organ transplant
Thanks to the Pap Smear test and the Gardasil 9 vaccine, the death rate from cervical cancer has decreased by more than 50 percent over the past 40 years. Cervical cancer does not typically cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages. Once the cancer is more advanced, women may start to experience the following warning signs of cervical cancer:
1. Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
The most common cervical cancer warning is abnormal vaginal bleeding. This typically occurs after the cancer has spread to nearby tissue. Although spotting can be harmless, it’s important to see your doctor if you experience bleeding between menstrual periods, heavier or longer menstrual periods, bleeding after sex, menopause, or a pelvic exam, or bleeding resulting in anemia-causing fatigue.
We all experience fatigue sometimes, but when should you start paying closer attention to it? Cancer patients often describe feeling tired, exhausted, lethargic or weak, and having little drive to participate in activities. For those suffering from fatigue, even the simplest tasks can seem draining. The more advanced the cancer, the more likely you are to experience fatigue.
3. Loss of Appetite or Unexplained Weight Loss
As with many other types of cancer, loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss are warning signs of cervical cancer. This can be especially evident if the weight loss persists regardless of your food consumption.
4. Foul Smelling Vaginal Discharge
This warning sign is also very common with the onset of cervical cancer. If cervical cancer lacks oxygen, some cells may die off, infecting the tumor. The infection is what creates a foul-smelling vaginal discharge. If the discharge is continuous and appears to be pale, watery, brown, or mixed with blood, you should contact your doctor.
5. Pain During Sexual Intercourse
Pain during sexual intercourse can occur in women with advanced cervical cancer. The tumor growth throughout the tissues and reproductive organs is what causes this pain and if experienced, should not be ignored.
6. Lower Back, Pelvic or Appendix Pain
Lower back or pelvic pain can be linked to issues with the reproductive organs, such as the cervix. Pelvic pain, especially pain that is continuous, is a tell-tale warning sign of cervical cancer. Pain near the appendix does not usually occur unless the cancer is in an advanced stage. Pelvic pain will generally follow other cervical cancer red flags.
7. Leg Pain
As the cancer progresses and reaches more advanced stages, it can start to press against nerves in the pelvic wall, resulting in leg pain and swelling. Swelling accompanied by leg pain could be a warning sign of cervical cancer, however on their own could be symptoms of various medical issues.
Cervical Cancer Diagnosis in Livingston, NJ
Fortunately, cervical cancer can be successfully treated when found early on – which is why getting that annual pap test is extremely important. The treatment a woman with cervical cancer can receive typically depends on how severe the cancer is, and at what stage she is diagnosed. Treatment options include surgery, the most common being a hysterectomy. If you’re concerned about your health, want to schedule your annual visit today, or to speak with Dr. Anthony Quartell about cervical cancer and the services that we offer for it, contact our office today.
Coming in only second to heart disease, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Roughly 13,000 women are diagnosed annually with cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is a deadly disease that affects the cervix- the lower portion of the uterus that opens to the vagina. The rate of this disease has declined significantly in the past 40 years due to increased awareness and Pap smears, but remains a concern for many. Pap smears as well as other preventive screenings can assist in the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer.
The importance of cervical cancer prevention is not something that you or your loved ones should take lightly. While symptoms of cervical cancer often appear later in the disease’s development, being aware of these symptoms can increase your chances of successful treatment. Starting today, take cancer prevention into your own hands. Below we have compiled a list of common cervical cancer symptoms you should keep an eye out for.
Cervical Cancer Early Symptoms
Pelvic or Abdominal Pain
A common symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal pelvic or abdominal pain. For those in question, any discomfort below your belly button above your legs qualifies as pelvic pain. If issues persist or gradually become worse merits a consult.
Although natural monthly occurrence, spotting between periods and abnormal vaginal bleeding can be concerning. While it is not necessarily a definite indication of serious issues, be aware that irregular vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of cervical cancer and should not be left unattended.
Similar to vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge can occur as a result of many possible causes- both harmful and natural. An irregular balance of normal bacteria or the introduction to antibiotics may lead to unexpected discharge. While different colors, smells, and textures all mean various possible causes, brown or bloody discharge accompanied with abnormal vaginal bleeding and/or pelvic pain are red flags for possible cervical cancer.
Advanced Cervical Cancer Symptoms
Lower Back Pain
Cervical cancer primarily affects women between the ages of 35-44, but any age post-puberty is vulnerable. Constant ache around the lower back and pelvis area are one of the easiest symptoms to go unnoticed. Be aware if conditions last more than a week or traditional relief does not work.
Unusual Urinary Symptoms
Urgency, increased frequency, or difficulty urinating – also blood in your urine – are all causes for concern. If symptoms occur more than 12 times in a month be proactive and schedule an appointment.
Discomfort During Intercourse
Cervical cancer may affect your sex life. If you experience any unusual pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse, schedule a visit. Bleeding during and after intercourse are additional signs red flags.
HPV’s Role in Cervical Cancer
While cervical cancer only affects women, prevention of this disease falls on both men and women. Found in almost every case of cervical cancer HPV, or Human papillomavirus, is the largest contributing factor to the disease. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US and if left untreated, may result in various other common genital cancers. To prevent yourself from contracting HPV, practice safe sex or ask us about recommended vaccines.
Schedule Your Screening NOW
Early identification of cervical cancer drastically decreases the chance of the cancer spreading to other organs. The earlier cervical cancer is spotted, the better your chances are for treatment to be successful. Any persistent symptoms should be an alert to stop in and get checked out. For more information about cervical cancer symptoms or to figure out the best cancer screening schedule for you, contact us through our website or call (973) 968-4611. Help us improve cervical cancer survival rates today and book a visit at the best gynecologist in New Jersey.