Symptoms of cervical cancer: The early stages
Symptoms of cervical cancer don’t often begin until the cancer becomes larger and spreads. However, the first identifiable symptoms are likely to include:
Sometimes, cervical cancer mimics menstrual bleeding. One may notice a longer or heavier menstrual cycle than usual or spotting or bleeding between periods. Bleeding that seems different in any way should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
Another sign to watch out for is pain in the pelvic region. Some may also feel pain in their back, particularly in the lower back. This may also include a sharp pain or pressure, located anywhere around the lower abdomen (below the belly button).
Vaginal discharge is normal. However, the type of discharge possibly related to cervical cancer can look red-tinged from small amounts of blood. It can also look pale, watery, brown and have a foul smell.
Pain during sex
Some people experience pain during intercourse, or some bleeding afterwards. If you experience this, be sure to visit your healthcare provider.
It’s important to note that these signs may also be a sign of something else, unrelated to cervical cancer. So always check in with your healthcare provider before assuming or diagnosing yourself, Choma.
Many sexual partners
The more sexual partners you have, the greater the chance of you catching human papilloma virus (HPV), which is the leading cause of cervical cancer.
A weakened immune system
If you think you’re at risk for cervical cancer, it’s important to ask your healthcare provider about the HPV vaccine. Receiving a vaccination to prevent HPV infection may reduce your risk of cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers.
Pap smear test
It’s important to go for routine pap smear tests (once a year). Pap tests can detect pre-cancerous conditions of the cervix, so they can be monitored or treated to prevent cervical cancer. Healthcare providers suggest beginning routine pap tests at age 21 and repeating them once a year, regardless of whether you’re sexually active or not.
Practice safe sex
Using a condom every time you have sex and limiting your number of sexual partners can reduce your risk of cervical cancer and prevent STIs.
The key to early detection of cervical cancer is for you to become familiar with your own body and be aware of what’s normal to you. This should include regular health check-ins with your healthcare provider.
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