Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women, behind breast cancer and colorectal cancer. As soon as the first symptoms appear, make an appointment with your doctor.
The main causes of cervical cancer
Infection with a virus from the human papillomavirus (HPV) family is the leading cause of cervical cancer. HPVs are very common sexually transmitted viruses. Several subtypes can cause lesions that can become precancerous and increase in severity over time. HPV infections are the cause of 70% of cervical cancer cases worldwide, other factors seem to favor the appearance of cervical cancer:
– having had several pregnancies,
– certain infections (Chlamydia).
– prolonged use of hormonal contraceptives taken in the form of pills, implants, patches or hormonal IUDs. The risk of developing cervical cancer increases with the duration of administration of treatment with oral contraceptives. This risk decreases when the contraceptive pill is stopped and becomes almost zero 10 years after stopping treatment.
The 7 main symptoms of cervical cancer
One of the most common symptoms of cervical cancer is vaginal bleeding, whether between periods, spontaneously or after intercourse. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is usually a symptom of advanced cervical cancer, as it means that a tumor on the cervix is spreading and affecting surrounding tissue.
Periods that last two weeks instead of four days, or that occur twice a month.
Don’t worry if it happens once, but if changes in your cycle last at least two cycles, there is cause for alarm.
Vaginal discharge is completely normal, but the type of discharge could be an indicator of a number of vaginal health issues. With cervical cancer, you may notice a foul-smelling pink, brown, or bloody discharge, potentially with bits of mucous.
Pelvic pain could be an indicator of change, advanced cervical cancer can spread to the bladder, bowels, lungs or liver. You may then feel pain in your back or legs. But this is usually associated with very advanced cases.
Most cervical cancer symptoms often don’t appear until an advanced stage. Fatigue is certainly one of these most diffuse symptoms. But it is one of the main symptoms that needs to get your attention. This cancer can actually lower the amount of red blood cells and oxygen in the body, making you feel completely exhausted all the time, usually without any further explanation.
A persistent feeling of nausea or indigestion can be a sign of cervical cancer. When advanced, cervical cancer can cause the cervix to swell and push into the abdominal cavity, compressing the gastrointestinal tract and stomach.
The same factors that can cause nausea can also cause unintended weight loss. A compressed stomach cannot hold much food. Also, if you’re constantly feeling nauseous, you’re probably not going to even want to try to eat. If you lose up to 5 or 10% of your body weight within six months call your doctor.