Don’t Ignore These Cervical Cancer Warning Signs

Before the 1940s, Cervical cancer was the number one cause of death in women, Until Dr. George Papanicolaou founded the PAP test. This test is simple, the cells from the cervix are collected and analyzed for any signs of cancer. This test has reduced the death rate from cervical cancer in women by 50%. And regular screening and advanced tests prevent most fatality from this cancer.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is what causes cervical cancer in women. Fortunately, in most women, their bodies are healthy and capable to fight the HPV virus before it causes cancer. But the risk of cervical cancer gets steep if a woman smokes, or if she has given birth to multiple children, or if she has used birth control pills for a long time or has HIV.
Cervical cancer takes some years to develop. That is why it’s essential to go for regular screenings, a pap test or an HPV test.

Cervical cancer very rarely develops in women who are younger than 20. Most cases of this cancer are found in women in their mid-30s to 60s. Many women don’t comprehend the risk of this cancer as they age, but unfortunately, 15% of cervical cancer cases are in women over the age of 65. At any given time, about 6.6% of women are estimated to get a cervical HPV infection. In India, HPV serotypes 16 and 18 accounts for nearly 76.7% of cervical cancer.

Although cervical cancer’s death rate has dropped considerably, it still has not gone away completely; This cancer is the third commonest cancer. In 2016, cervical cancer had an estimated 1 lakh new cases; in 2020, the patients were about 1.04 lakh. And in every 8 minutes, one woman dies of this cancer in India.

The HPV vaccine is given to girls and young women before they engage in sexual activities in their lives to eradicate the risk of them getting infected with this virus and develop Cervical cancer. This vaccine is given in a set of 3in a series. But this vaccine is only effective before any contraction of the virus; It is recommended to get this vaccine at an early age before becoming sexually active. Doctors recommend this vaccine at age 11 or 12, though it may be given before or after this age.
Even if you’ve taken the vaccine, you still should continue to go for regular screenings to be sure. Because though the vaccine is effective but does not protect you from all strains of the HPV virus.

Signs And Symptoms Of Cervical cancer:

It is also essential to be aware of cervical cancer’s signs and symptoms and never neglect or ignore them. Here are some of the symptoms or signs that you may experience if you have a developing cervical cancer:

  • You’ll have unusual pain and bleeding in your vagina during sex, menstruation.
  • Unusual discharge and odor from the vagina and pelvic pain.
  • Bleeding following douching.
  • Bleeding during or after a pelvic exam
  • heavier periods than usual or having them last longer than expected,
    If cancer has spread to tissues nearby, symptoms can be:
  • Having difficulties and pain during urinating.
  • Swelling in the abdomen, legs, and back- pain.
  • Pain or bleeding while excreting.
  • Lethargic feeling, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
  • Vomiting and constipation.

It’s important to know that just because you have any of these symptoms mentioned above, it does not mean you indeed have this cancer. These similar signs can be by other infections or conditions. But it’s always wise not to ignore them as benign and go for screening at Asian Hospitals or other reliable doctors around you to get checked and treated. It is also necessary to know what’s right for your age according to your genetic risk factors and history.

When to go to a doctor?

You have any cervical cancer symptoms like bleeding or pain after intercourse, abnormal bleeding, vaginal odor, or discharge. You should go for screening and have a gynecological exam that includes a PAP test.
Note: After menopause, any vaginal bleeding should be brought to the doctor’s attention right away. The cause can be only dryness in the vagina or a uterine polyp, but it is the most common sign and symptom of cervical and uterine cancer.

Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors