Symptoms of cervical cancer may not appear until the later stages of the disease. As the cancer spreads, symptoms can increase in severity and affect regions outside the pelvis.
The signs of cervical cancer are not unique. For example, symptoms of Infection and some other cancers, such as endometrial cancer, mimic those of cervical cancer. Thus, a diagnosis cannot be made on symptoms alone.
Common Signs & Symptoms
The most common symptom of cervical cancer is vaginal bleeding that can occur following intercourse, touching, between menstrual periods, or after menopause. Unusually heavy menstrual bleeding is also a symptom.
Some other signs include foul-smelling vaginal discharges and pain, especially in the pelvic region and during intercourse. Many women report burning, painful, or uncomfortable urination.
Other Signs & Symptoms
Cervical cancer can spread (a process called metastasis) to other organs. It grows by extending deeper into the uterus and to the vagina. Other pelvic organs commonly involved include the bladder and rectum. Additional symptoms may arise as the tumor spreads. Vaginal bleeding worsens and feces or urine may leak from the vagina. Pain in the pelvis intensifies and may spread to the back and legs. Loss of appetite and weight as well as fatigue, and a single swollen leg have also been reported. Other symptoms that occur in the genitourinary tract include constipation, blood in the urine, and blocked urine passage. However, these symptoms are rare because the cancer is usually detected in its early stages.
Extensive metastasis usually affects the lungs, lymph nodes, liver, and bone. Accumulation of fluid in one leg is a sign that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, and an enlarged liver is diagnostic for liver involvement.
The majority of cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus does not often cause illness, and it can be eliminated by the hostís immune system. The HPV that can turn cells cancerous is different from the strains that cause genital warts.