Spotlight on Cervical Cancer: Warning Signs and Symptoms

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More than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States each year – a disease once known as one of the most common causes for cancer deaths among American women.

Cervical cancer develops in the lower portion of a woman’s uterus, commonly identified as the cervix. Two main types of cervical cancer – squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma – characteristically begin development in the cells lining a woman’s cervix. The American Cancer Society estimates 80-90% of all cervical cancer cases are diagnosed as squamous cell carcinoma.

Early forms of cervical cancer and pre-cancers can be difficult to identify, often displaying no physical symptoms. Research shows signs and symptoms of cervical cancer usually do not appear until the cancer becomes invasive.

As a woman, do you know the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer? Doctors suggest becoming familiar with the following warning signs of the disease:

  • Unusually long and heavier menstrual periods
  • Bleeding or spotting between periods
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding – including after intercourse
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Unusual vaginal discharge between periods

While monitoring for these signs and symptoms, doctors stress the importance of understanding that these warning signs can be triggered by other factors such as an infection. Should you display any of the symptoms above, you are encouraged to schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately.

Early detection and routine screenings have proven critical in the successful diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer in women. Doctors recommend women between the ages of 21-29 should schedule a Pap test every three years to help detect pre-cancerous or cancerous cells inside of the cervix. Once a woman turns 30, doctors suggest combining the routine Pap test with an HPV test every 5 years.

Additional information on cervical cancer and early detection can be found on Coastal Cancer Center’s Facebook page by clicking here.

 Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute