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Common Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

written by: Rishi Prakash • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 8/31/2010

Cervical cancer is the second most severe cause of female cancer mortality across the globe. Approximately 510, 000 cases of this disease are reported every year with 80 percent from developing countries. This article discusses cervical cancer common symptoms.

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    Types of Cervical Cancer

    Cervical cancer, as the name suggests, is a type of cancer that occurs in the cervix, which is the lowermost part of the uterus and opens at the top of the vagina.

    Globally, cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer that is found in women. More than 90 percent of the cervical cancers can be divided into two different types:

    Squamous cell carcinoma: It starts in the cell surface that lines the cervix. It develops a series of changes, starting from mild abnormalities in the cells and progresses towards full cancer. Every year almost 24,000 women are diagnosed with precancerous abnormalities when they go through the cervical smear test.

    Adenocarcinoma: This includes only 5 to 10 percent and forms mucous producing gland cells. These are hard to diagnose and may not be picked up by a smear test.

    Cervical cancers are primarily caused by a virus, human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus is spread through the vagina during intercourse. There are different types of HPV, but strains such as HPV 16 and 18 carry the highest risk.

    In addition, there are other factors that may cause cervical cancer, including sexual intercourse at an earlier age, more than one sexual partner, sexual partners having multiple partners and weakened immune system among others.

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    Cervical Cancer Common Symptoms

    Common cervical cancer symptoms often get overlooked because they are very much similar to other ailments in various ways. For example, many women consider such symptoms as PMS (premenstrual syndrome) or ovulation pains. Many a times, however, there is no symptom at all until the disease is diagnosed. And that’s the reason why Pap smear tests are very important for every woman. This test can identify any abnormal change in the cervical region much earlier before they turn out to be cancerous.

    Early symptoms of cervical cancer include:

    • Continuous vaginal discharge with a foul smell
    • Abnormal vaginal bleeding during coition, between periods and after menopause
    • Periods become heavier and stay for a longer period of time than usual
    • Any bleeding after menopause

    There are some advanced symptoms as well, which are mentioned below:

    • Loss of appetite
    • Fatigue
    • Weight loss
    • Back pain
    • Pelvic pain
    • Single swollen leg
    • Leaking of urine from the vagina
    • Heavy vaginal bleeding
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    When to See a Doctor

    If you are a sexually active woman and have not had a Pap smear for the past one year.

    If your age is more than 20 years and you have never gone through a pelvic examination and pap smear.

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    References

    (Web): Human papillomavirus infection and cervical cancer -- http://www.who.int/vaccine_research/diseases/hpv/en/

    (Web): Cervical Cancer -- http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/cervical-cancer/overview.html

    (Web): What is cervical cancer? -- http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/in_depth/cancer/cervical_cancer.shtml

    (Web): General Information About Cervical Cancer -- http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/cervical/Patient

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