Cervical cancer symptoms usually don’t appear when the condition is in its earliest, most treatable stages. In many cases, an abnormal Pap test result is the first indication of the possible presence of precancerous or cancerous cells in a woman’s cervix. When detected early, cervical cancer can be treated and cured. Because a routine Pap smear is the best tool for this purpose, its importance cannot be overstated. In general, beginning at age 18, a woman should be screened every year (or at the frequency recommended by her physician).
Noticeable cervical cancer symptoms can begin to occur when abnormal cellular changes transform into cancerous tumors. Since many of these symptoms are also signs of infection and other conditions, a woman should consult with a health care practitioner as soon as possible if she notices:
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding (i.e., between menstrual periods or after sexual intercourse, a pelvic exam or menopause)
- Pelvic or low back pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Vaginal discharge that is watery, thick, odorous or tinged with blood
- Urination or defecation difficulties
- Swollen legs
A woman experiencing any of these symptoms should seek professional consultation, even if she is receiving regular Pap smears, because there is always a chance that the test may have missed something. Ignoring symptoms may allow the cancer to advance. If it turns out that the symptoms were related to another condition, it is most likely still a condition that deserves medical attention.
The gynecological clinic at Moffitt Cancer Center welcomes patients who would like to have their cervical cancer symptoms evaluated, and no referral is necessary to consult with our experienced multispecialty team. To learn more, please call 1-888-MOFFITT. Alternatively, you can schedule an appointment online.