What are the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer?

Symptoms

Cervical cancer is difficult to detect in the early stages, since the symptoms are too similar to other ailments, including PMS. For all intents and purposes, early cervical cancer has no symptoms and goes unnoticed by most women unless caught in a pap smear.

The most common symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding, especially between periods, after sex, after douching, or after a pelvic exam. Bleeding after menopause is a red flag for cervical cancer.

Symptoms that may occur can include:

- Heavy discharge: Continuous vaginal discharge, which may be pale, watery, pink, brown, bloody, or foul-smelling.

- Pelvic pain

- Urination pain

The first signs of a precancerous lesion are found by a Pap test. Cervical cancer begins with a viral infection. The virus, HPV, infects cells of the cervix, and usually progresses to cancer very slowly. Fortunately only a few types of HPV are considered high risk (HPV type 6,11,18) and even high risk types can be stopped from progressing to cancer if regular exams are given.

Many times cervical cancer has no symptoms until the cancer is more advanced. Even when symptoms are present they are often mistaken for other illnesses.