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Cervical Cancer Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

Pap smears can be quite painful to get, sometimes literally and other times mentally, from the stirrups to the jelly that never quite gets cleaned off totally by your gynaecologist. All women between the ages of 21 and 65 years old should get a Pap smear at least once every three years from 21 to 30, and every five years from 30 to 65.

However, cervical cancer was, at a time, the number one cause of cancer death in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But now, thanks to these pap smears, we can spot these issues before they become cancerous. Cervical cancer is no longer in the top ten cancer killers.

Cancerous cells. Photo: Google.com

Regardless of this good news, the American Cancer Society estimates that 13,240 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in 2018; 31 percent of these diagnoses will be fatal. The CDC reports that six out of every 10 cervical cancers occur in women who have never received a Pap test or have not been tested in the past five years.

However, you should not just rely on a Pap to flag any issues. If you spot any of these symptoms of cervical cancer, you should talk to your gynaecologist and get checked out as soon as possible.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding

One of the most common symptoms of cervical cancer is vaginal bleeding, whether between periods, after sex or after menopause. This abnormal vaginal bleeding means that a tumour on the cervix is spreading to affect nearby tissue.

Chronic fatigue

Most symptoms of cervical cancer do not come along until the disease enters more advanced stages. For this reason, it shares some symptoms with all cancers and one of them is fatigue. This is because abnormal vaginal bleeding can lower the amount of oxygen and red blood cells in the body, making you feel totally exhausted all the time for no reason. If you are dealing with major fatigue, have your doctor check your iron and red blood cells.

Too-heavy periods

You shouldn’t totally panic if your period lasts a day longer or seems a bit darker. That isn’t what this means. You should, however, talk to your gyno if your period suddenly lasts two weeks instead of four days or if you have two periods in a month. Any change in your cycle that lasts for at least two cycles is something worth noting.

Photo credit: Sagittarian Mind Consulting

Weird vaginal discharge

Discharge is totally normal, but the type of discharge you have may be an indicator of a number of different vaginal health issues. With cervical cancer, you may notice a discharge that’s watery, foul-smelling and pink, bloody or brown. It could also come with lumps of tissue. Masses and tumours secrete fluid, that could contribute to a continuous, watery discharge.

Pain in the pelvis, back or leg

One indicator of any changes to the cervix could lead to pelvic pain. Advanced cervical cancer, however, can spread to the bladder, intestines or even the lungs and liver. This could cause back or leg pain. Talk to your doctor to rule out cervical cancer as one of the causes of this pain.

Nausea

A persistent feeling of nausea (like you’re going to throw up) or indigestion can be a sign of cancer, including cervical cancer. When advanced, cervical cancer can cause the cervix to swell into the abdominal cavity, compressing the gastrointestinal tract and stomach to cause or even acid reflux.

Unintended weight loss

Not all weight loss is intentional. Sometimes, you find yourself losing up to 10 percent of your body weight in six months without trying. If this is you, call your doctor immediately. The factors that cause unintended weight loss are also the factors that cause cervical cancer-related nausea. If you are constantly feeling nauseated, you probably aren’t going to even want to try to eat.

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