Cervical Cancer: Could You Have It and Not Know It?

Merely Me Health Guide
  • The National Cervical Cancer Coalition has designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month. The focus of this awareness campaign is upon the prevention and early detection of the HPV (human papilloma virus) and cervical changes leading to cancer. There are as many as 70 different strains of HPV and while some can cause genital warts, other high risk types can cause precancerous changes to the cervix. Some women will develop cancer due to these cervical abnormalities. While cervical cancer is treatable especially in the early stages it can be deadly. The current estimates are that about 12,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. this year and that more than a third (about 4,000) of these women will die. These statistics are especially tragic considering that cervical cancer is totally preventable.

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    There are now HPV vaccines available to both females and males who are between the ages of 9 and 26. There are also Pap tests which screen for any cervical abnormalities. HPV screening tests are also available for those patients who are determined to be at risk.


    So why are women still dying of cervical cancer?


    One of the reasons is that some women skip essential doctor visits and screenings, sometimes due to a lack of insurance or knowledge about such tests. And the second reason is that the early stages of cervical cancer may lack any signs or symptoms. In other cases some women may have symptoms of cervical cancer and be completely unaware of what these symptoms mean. In this post we are going to give you the straight scoop on the signs of cervical cancer. Remember that only a doctor can diagnose and treat you. If you experience any of the following symptoms please seek the guidance of your doctor or gynecologist right away.


    Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer may include:


    • Vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods, heavy or extended periods, and/or bleeding and spotting following sexual intercourse.


    • Any type of vaginal bleeding after menopause.


    • Chronic vaginal discharge which can be watery, pink, or tinged with blood.  The discharge can also be brown or yellow in color.  This continuous discharge will have a foul odor.


    • Pelvic pain during sexual intercourse.


    • Pain during urination

    Please note that other gynecological condition may also cause some of these symptoms.  Please check with your doctor to receieve an appropriate diagnosis.


    In more advanced stages of cervical cancer patients may experience any of the following:


    • Loss of appetite or weight loss


    • Extreme fatigue


    • Back and/or leg pain


    • Bone fractures


    • Swelling of one leg


    • Leaking of urine or even feces from the vagina


    Remember that both HPV and cervical cancer are preventable. Spread the word on how important it is for women to have regular gynecological exams. For those who lack insurance, organizations such as Planned Parenthood  offer low cost Pap screenings. You can call 800-230-7526 to find a center near you. The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program also fund programs which provide low cost or free Pap tests to women in need. To find out more call: 800-232-4636.


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    For more information on HPV and cervical cancer including prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment please refer to the following Health Central articles:


    Introduction to Cervical Cancer


    Screening for Cervical Cancer


    Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Cervical Cancer 


    Cervical Cancer Symptoms


    Cervical Cancer Diagnosis


    Vaccines for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer


    What Do I Ask my Child’s Pediatrician about the HPV Vaccine? 


    Question of the Week: Will You Get Your Son or Daughter the HPV Vaccine? 

Published On: January 24, 2012