Early Warning Signs Of Cervical Cancer, Screening Tests & Vaccines
Do you know? Cancer occurring in the uterus and cervix is the third leading cancer in India. The cervix is the lower end of the uterus, which connects the uterus with the vagina in women. Most cervical cancer cases are caused by a sexually transmitted viral infection, HPV. Hence understanding early warning signs of cervical cancer, screening tests, and vaccination for HPV can help prevent cervical cancer and advanced disease stage.
See A Doctor Right Away If You Notice Any Of These Early Warning Signs Of Cervical Cancer: Find Cancer Early
Like many cancers, cervical cancer at early stages does not show any symptoms. When cancer grows into nearby tissue, some people may notice these initial symptoms of cervical cancer.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding: Abnormal vaginal bleeding is often the 1st symptom of cervical cancer, and the woman may experience heavier periods, periods that last longer than the normal periods, or bleeding after the periods have stopped. Abnormal vaginal bleeding also refers to bleeding after menopause, after douching, or pelvic exam. Bleeding may also occur after sex.
Unusual vaginal discharge: One of the common initial symptoms of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal discharge. The discharge associated with cervical cancer may be watery or blood-containing and may look brown, pale, or pink in color. The discharge may occur after menopause or between your periods and may have a foul odor to it.
Pelvic pain: Pain in the back, particularly in the lower back, without a clear reason is another possible early warning sign of cervical cancer.
Pain during intercourse: Some women may experience pain during or right after having intercourse, while some women may have bleeding after intercourse.
When cancer becomes advanced, people may experience:
- Swelling of the legs
- Problems with urination or bowel habits
- Blood in the urine
Having these signs or symptoms does not mean you have cervical cancer. It may be caused by other less serious conditions, but it is important to get consulted with a physician.
Get Screened And Vaccinated: Hope For Prevention
Cervical cancers grow slowly and over many years. Regular screening tests can find abnormal cell changes in the cervix so that they can be treated before the cells have a chance to turn into cancer. It also helps find cancers at an early stage, where they are highly treatable, and prevents the growth of cancer into a more advanced stage and complications.
Screening Tests For Cervical Cancer –
Experts recommend women from the age of 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every three years. From the age of 30 to 64, women should have a Pap test plus HPV test every 5 years or a Pap test alone every three years.
Pap test, also known as Pap smear test, involves the collection of cells from the cervix and tests for early changes that lead to cervical cancer.
HPV test – This test checks the cells of the cervix for HPV infection as almost 99% of cervical cancer cases are linked to HPV infection.
Another test called VIA (visual inspection with acetic acid) can also be done to look for abnormalities on the cervix. A health care professional will perform this test with the help of a few tools and the naked eye.
Ask Your Doctor About The Human Papillomavirus Vaccine
HPV vaccination can significantly reduce your risk of developing cervical and other HPV related cancers such as anal and vaginal cancer.
Globally, the HPV vaccine is recommended at ages eleven or twelve, though it can be started at the young age of 9. It is recommended till age 26 for persons who were not adequately vaccinated earlier.
The Chance Of Recovery Is Better When Cervical Cancer Is Found Early
When cervical cancer is found early, it increases the chance of successful treatment. Noticing the initial symptoms and bringing it to the physician’s attention, having regular screening tests, and getting a vaccine that protects against human papillomavirus infection can help in the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer.
Safe sex practices, quitting smoking, and having a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruits can help reduce your risk of cervical cancer.