What are Early Signs of Cervical Cancer?
Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
Cervical cancer usually presents with abnormal vaginal bleeding. It usually presents as irregular bleeding or spotting in the postmenopausal women. So, after attaining menopause, if you notice bleeding or spotting per vaginum, it may be a sign of cervical cancer.
In premenopausal women, it may present as irregular menstrual bleeding (metrorrhagia) or excessive bleeding during menstrual cycles (menorrhagia). It may also be associated with excessive pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis during the menstrual cycles (dysmenorrhea).
Unusual Vaginal Discharge
Sometimes an abnormal vaginal discharge may be present that may be odourless, or have a foul smell. Although, many other conditions and infections may cause such complaint.
Bleeding and Pain during Coitus
Cervical cancer may present with painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia) with may/may not be associated with bleeding after intercourse. Other causes of dyspareunia must be rule out.
Pain in Abdomen or Pelvis
Pain or discomfort in lower abdomen or pelvis may be due to many causes, benign or malignant. But cervical cancer should be kept as a possible differential diagnosis, especially when one or more of the other signs are present, as described above.
It may occur due to locoregional extension of cervical cancer in nearby structures. Also, constipation due to intestinal obstruction may cause such complaints.
Problems in urination like painful urination, difficulty in passing urine or passage of blood in urine may be a sign of cervical cancer.
Swelling of Legs
Swelling of one or both the legs may be sign of locally advanced cervical cancer. It usually occurs due to the blockage of venous flow from lower limbs, when the cervical mass compresses the vessels.
Presence of one or more of above symptoms may warrant further investigations to diagnose and stage the disease.
Symptoms of Stage 4 Advanced or Metastatic Cervical Cancer
Metastatic or stage 4 cervical cancer has spread to involve one or more distant organs. The signs will depend on the organ involved.
Abdominal Distention or Bloating
Collection of ascitic fluid in peritoneal cavity may occur due to microscopic or macroscopic spread of cervical cancer cells to the peritoneum and omentum. When the amount of fluid collection is significant, it causes distention of abdomen and bloating sensation. It may also be accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting.
Breathlessness, Cough or Chest Pain
Spread of cervical cancer to lungs or pleura (leading to pleural effusion) or mediastinal lymph nodes may cause respiratory symptoms like difficulty in breathing or painful breathing, cough, chest pain or discomfort.
Jaundice or yellowish discoloration of eyes and/or urine may be a sign of metastatic cervical cancer, when it has spread to liver, or causes obstruction of bile duct. Also, it may be associated with pruritus, or excessive itching on the skin.
Other signs of metastatic disease include pain at one or more bony sites due to bone metastasis from the tumor. Rarely, spread to brain may cause unconsciousness, seizures, weakness in arms or legs.