Authored by Mary Lamphere in Diseases
Published on 12-05-2009
Cervical cancer is often a silent disease that goes unnoticed unless women have regular pap smears to test for abnormal cervix cells. In most cases, women have no idea that they have cervical cancer until they have a pap smear that results in abnormal cells which are then tested and confirmed through biopsy to be cancerous. The initial signs and symptoms of cervix cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding, abnormal discharge from the vagina and sometimes pain during intercourse. Unfortunately, all of these signs and symptoms could be related to one of hundreds of other problems and do not necessarily always relate to cervical cancer.
Testing for Cervix Cancer
Women aged 13-40 should have routine pap smear tests. During child bearing years, women should receive annual pap smears so that any changes in cervical cells can be found quickly and treated. An abnormal pap smear simply means that there are cells on the cervix that were found to be abnormal–this does not necessarily mean that the cells are cancerous! If the doctor finds abnormal cells during a pap test then the woman will be asked to return to the office for additional testing which will usually include performing a biopsy of the cervix to test for cancer.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Cervix Cancer
Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a common symptom of cervical cancer. If you have an unexpected and significant change in your menstrual cycle that cannot be attributed to pregnancy or menopause then you should consult with your gynecologist to determine if there is an underlying cause of the change. Cervix cancer will sometimes cause increased vaginal bleeding which can also result in anemia.
Another common early sign of cervix cancer is pain during intercourse. Painful intercourse does not necessarily mean that you have cancer, but it is another factor that should definitely be discussed with your family doctor or gynecologist. The cervix becomes very tender when cells are abnormal and this can be the cause for pain during intercourse.
Signs and Symptoms of Progressing Cervix Cancer
As cervix cancer progresses there are additional signs and symptoms that become more and more prevalent. These symptoms may include weight loss, increased menstruation fluctuations, difficulty urinating, and pain within the pelvis, legs and back.
Many women report lower back pain and pain in the legs associated with cervix cancer. The pain is likely caused by the cancer being so close to the spinal area and the nerves connecting the core of the body. Additionally, pain may be associated with loss of blood from increased irregularities in menstruation.
In severe cases of cervix cancer there is sometimes an abnormal opening in the vagina that causes additional problems such as leaking urine or feces into the vaginal opening. The opening is called a fistula and results from the cervix cancer. Women who suffer from this adverse side effect of cervical cancer may need to have surgery to repair the opening so that additional infection is not endured from the leakage of bodily fluids into the vagina.
Additional signs of cervix cancer include difficulty urinating. Women with cervical cancer will sometimes suffer from increased urinary problems because the increased cancer cells on the cervix will place pressure on the bladder and kidneys. This can also cause a loss of kidney function, urinary tract infections, and blockage of the urethra which all pose additional risks for women with cervical cancer.