Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Jan 12, 2022 | Cancer

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Comprehensive care for cervical cancer can be found across our ministry.

In 2021, the American Cancer Society estimated approximately 14,480 new cases of cervical cancer occurred in the United States. Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer can be difficult to detect. Our team of nationally recognized oncology experts offers individual and compassionate care. 

Cervical Cancer Overview

The cervix is an organ in the female reproductive system that connects the uterus and the vagina. 

  • The endocervix is the cervical opening leading the uterus. It’s covered with glandular cells.
  • The exocervix is the outer part of the cervix visible during a gynecological exam. It’s covered in squamous cells. 

Pre-cancerous cells often grow in the transformation zone, where the endocervix and the exocervix meet. Not all pre-cancerous cells become cancer, yet detecting them early is important. 

Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

In the early stages, there are few signs and symptoms of cervical cancer. As the disease progresses, patients may experience the following symptoms:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding (after sex, in between periods, abnormal menstrual periods or after menopause)
  • Blood in the urine
  • Leg swelling
  • Pain during sex
  • Pelvic pain
  • Trouble urinating or having a bowel movement
  • Unusual vaginal discharge (bloody or post-menopausal discharge)

Cervical Cancer Diagnosis and Screening

  • Biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure to remove cells or tissue to determine the presence of disease.
  • Colposcopy. A colposcope is a device inserted by a physician into the vagina. It takes magnified images of the cervix. 
  • HPV screen. A human papillomavirus (HPV) test checks for the presence of abnormal cells in the cervix. A speculum opens the vagina and a physician uses a soft brush or spatula to collect cervical cells. 
  • Pap smear. Pap smears are conducted using the same methods. These tests only detect abnormal cervical cells. 

Treatment for Cervical Cancer

The treatment for cervical cancer depends on what stage of cervical cancer is present and whether the patient wants to preserve their fertility. Treatments may include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Drug therapy
  • Immunotherapy therapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery

Cervical Cancer Prevention

Screenings are particularly effective at detecting the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer.

  • Regular check-ups with an OB-GYN are important for early detection.
  • Women over age 30 should be screened for HPV.
  • Women between the ages of 21-29 should receive Pap smears every three years and women over the age of 30 should receive Pap and HPV screens every five years.

Protect your health with an annual primary care checkup. Connect with a provider here.

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