Much of the problem with cervical cancer is the fact that there are often no cervical cancer signs to speak of; particularly in the earlier stages. While the early stages may be completely asymptomatic, the symptoms that do appear may sometimes be non specific in nature and difficult to connect to the actual disease.
Here are some of the early cervical cancer signs to look for:
An Abnormal Pap Smear
It is usually the first early sign of cervical cancer. This will indicate the presence of abnormal cells in the cervix which could be indicative of potentially premalignant changes in the cervix.
These are the changes that take place before the cancer has actually developed. If such a premalignant problem is detected in time, it can be monitored and treated in a non-invasive manner without being allowed to grow and cause more damage.
Since an abnormal pap smear is usually the first early sign of cervical cancer, the importance of undergoing regular pap smears as recommended becomes clear.
Other cervical cancer signs
These signs of the disease will usually manifest when the cancer is more advanced and may include:
- Pelvic pain occuring other than during a woman’s menstrual period could be a sign. The pain can vary from a sharp to dull; mild to severe and may last for hours
- Abnormal or increased vaginal discharge could also indicate that cervical cancer is present, though there could be so many other reasons for unusual discharge. The discharge could vary in consistency and may be foul smelling.
- Abnormal bleeding that is has nothing to do with the monthly period can also be one of the cervical cancer signs. The bleeding could be mid-cycle, it could be after or during sex, after douching or after a pelvic exam.
- Women may also experience pain in the bladder while urinating and this is usually a sign that the cancer is advanced and has probably spread to the bladder as well
- In cases there could also be incontinence or a leaking of urine or feces from the vagina
- Among the more advanced symptom so the disease, metastases may be noted in distant lymph nodes, the lungs, the abdomen, and other organs of the body.
It is important to remember that though the above symptoms may be signs of cervical cancer, each of the symptoms could also be caused by various other conditions and infections. So other than a pap smear there seems to be little that could help definitively identify symptoms of the disease.
Non-specific cervical cancer signs
Women can have a general feeling of being unwell or out of sorts. They may have unexplained weight loss which could be a sign of the disease. They may experience poor appetite or loss of appetite as well. There could be general fatigue and low energy levels.
Bone fractures could also be cervical cancer signs to watch out for. Then there could be back pain, leg pain or swelling in one single leg that could be among the signs.