Cervical cancer has been one of the most studied neoplastic pathologies in the last decades due to its high incidence and mortality. Although diagnostic and therapeutic methods have advanced a lot, the best option is still only one: early detection.
Although deaths from this disease have decreased dramatically since 1980, thanks to the increase in preventive examinations, it seems that, likewise, there will be more than 13,000 women in the United States alone who will be diagnosed with this disease by this year.
The best way to prevent death from any neoplastic disease is one: prevention. We must undergo frequent examinations and studies, especially once we are of age, to rule out any type of malignant pathology. Awareness is the most important thing.
Prevention begins with knowledge and dissemination of relevant information about this disease. Take help of the internet for awareness if you are unsure. Luckily today we have easy access to internet which is how we can find information. Also make sure the information you are reading is from a valid source. There are a number of health portals like WebMd, Mayoclinic, ClinicSpots and so on, where you can read about such conditions. ClinicSpots provides a guide to best cancer hospital in India along with a Q&A segment where people post their queries and doctors answer them. The best way to reach a diagnosis in time is to know what the related signs and symptoms are, especially the first ones to appear.
Cervical cancer, like many neoplastic pathologies, has a slow progression, so the symptoms will vary depending on its progress and commitment. For this reason, we will divide the symptoms according to their chronological appearance into two large groups.
Early Onset Symptoms
These are the first identifiable symptoms in a woman who is suffering from cervical cancer. Before this, even if the lesion is relatively advanced (that it is an in-situ cancer, for example), there will be no clear manifestation and it will only be demonstrable through diagnostic tests.
Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
Remember that we most often see this disease in older women, who are already close to menopause. For this reason, bleeding may be confused with the “last periods” or hormonal changes typical of that physiological stage.
However, what we should know is that the sacred is usually between menstrual periods, which would always be atypical. Even blood lost during menstruation is much greater in a woman who has cervical cancer, especially in advanced stages.
If menopause is already in place, then there should be no bleeding at all. Scarce bleeding may be related to vaginal atrophy, a common sign in women going through this stage, but easily identifiable bleeding may have another, more important cause.
Finally, bleeding may also occur during sex. This is a common sign and usually one of the most important in making the decision to go to the doctor. Although tears are common during sex, it is abnormal for them to occur whenever you have sex or in large amounts.
Remember that it is a lump that is growing in your uterus, so there may be non-specific pain. There may be two mechanisms: the growth of the tumor begins to compress the surrounding structures, causing the pain, or there is direct involvement (inflammation) of painful tissues.
Vaginal Flow and Odour
It is also possible to witness abnormal flow with infection-like characteristics. The cause is that the tumor can stimulate neighboring glands, increasing mucus production, but accompanying it with inflammatory debris from destruction of surrounding tissue.
Late Onset Symptoms
Once the tumor starts to grow, it does something else: it spreads. But, contrary to what people think, it not only does it spread via the bloodstream (metastasis), it also spreads locally. This is the point where it has a major impact on other systems. The signs and symptoms that occur at this stage are:
One of the first systems to be affected by tumor growth is the urinary system, specifically the bladder. The degradation caused by this cancer may cause problems with urination, even pain, but more often: the appearance of blood in the urine.
Another serious and important point of the natural evolution of this disease is the gastrointestinal impact it has. Not only the typical problems, such as diarrhea, but also constipation and other general symptoms.
In the case of diarrhea, it is usually with very red blood. In fact, sometimes it can continue to bleed even after a bowel movement. In addition, defecation becomes a painful and disabling act, from which you end up fatigued.
It may also be accompanied by other general symptoms, such as vomiting and nausea, caused by various factors. Constipation may even occur with the growth of the tumor and compression of the large intestine.
All cancer patients experience something: degradation and wear and tear. As you progress further, you lose more weight and become more easily fatigued. Neoplastic, or cancerous, pathologies are known as “consumer diseases”. This means that they use many elements of your body to continue growing and damaging.
As the cancer progresses, many of the elements from the food and from your body that would be used to maintain your metabolism, the tumor uses them to expand and spread. It’s a dilemma.
Less frequently, you may sweat a lot (especially in the abdomen), have alternating periods of fever, swollen legs, have back pain (especially in the lower back), etc. There are many manifestations that could accompany cervical cancer without any problem.
It is necessary to emphasize that all these are symptoms that can appear in a person with cervical cancer, which means that they will not necessarily be all. Some people’s symptoms evolve in a different way, and this is caused by the progression of the tumor.
Depending on the direction the local invasion takes, for example, there may be gastrointestinal and non-urinary symptoms. In addition, there may be little or no bleeding until late or final stages of the disease are reached.
Whatever the case, you must be aware of each of these possible clinical manifestations. As we mentioned from the beginning, the ideal is to try to prevent and diagnose early. The less invasive and compromised the disease is, the greater the likelihood of cure.