Cervical cancer begins in the cervix, the bottom of the uterus or the entrance to the vagina. The cervix contains 2 parts. The outer part or the closest to the vagina is called ectocervix. The inner part, or closest to the uterus is called the endocervix. Most cervical cancers originate in the place where these two parts meet. This union is known as the transition zone. Previously, cervical cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in women. Thanks to the Pap test (abbreviated Pap), which detects this type of cancer, the number of women with cervical cancer has declined dramatically in the United States. Through this test, doctors can reveal cellular changes in the cervix, when even precancerous. Currently, this is the only type of gynecological cancer that can be prevented by routine testing.
The signs of cervical cancer every woman needs to know
Women with precancerous lesions in the cervix usually experience no symptoms. Normally, women have no symptoms until the cells have become cancer and invaded the innermost parts of the cervix and other organs in the pelvic cavity. It is therefore important that you get Pap test done regularly. This test detects precancerous or cancerous cells.
You may have few symptoms in the early stages of cervical cancer. These signs may be not alarming, but it is always a good idea to go to your doctor for evaluation. Some of the early symptoms of cervical cancer are:
– Vaginal discharge. As a first sign, cervical cancer may cause more vaginal discharge than normal. Frequently, this flow is bloody or has an unpleasant odor.
– Abnormal vaginal bleeding. If you have cervical cancer, you may have a bleeding between periods or after sexual intercourses. The blood flow of periods may also be heavier and last longer than normal.
– Bad vaginal smell. You might notice a strange or unpleasant odor of vaginal discharge.
– Feeling pain. You may feel pain during sex or pain in the pelvic area and not related to sex or other activities.
If your cancer is already well advanced or has spread to other parts, you may have the following symptoms. Usually, these symptoms indicate that the cancer has spread to tissue surrounding the cervix:
– Pain in the pelvic area
– Heavy bleeding from the vagina
– Swelling of one leg.