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What Are the Early Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?

What Are the Early Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?

Just like most cancers, knowing what are the early signs and symptoms of cervical cancer helps with early detection and early treatment. This is especially important because there really is no way to completely prevent cervical cancer.

In fact, even the most effective vaccine only prevents 75-90% of all cases of cervical cancer. So it is important for women to keep themselves informed about this condition, in order to make sure that they are on top of it in case they develop cervical cancer.

What Is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cervix, which is a part of a woman’s reproductive system. It usually affects women who are 35 years old and older, but younger women can also acquire this disease.

It is one of the most preventable forms of cancer among women, mostly because of an effective vaccine. Despite this, thousands of women still develop this disease each year.

This is why it is important to know what are the early signs and symptoms of cervical cancer, and to get routine screenings as women get older. This would help detect the disease in its early stages and head it off before it becomes worse.

Here are some of the possible symptoms of cervical cancer.

Bleeding Outside of Your Period

One of the most common, early signs and symptoms of cervical cancer is abnormal bleeding coming from the vagina. This can sometimes be mistaken for spotting, but there are some warning signs that would let you know if the bleeding you’re experiencing is abnormal.

Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Heavier periods
  • Bleeding in between your periods
  • Bleeding after having sex
  • Experiencing bleeding after menopause
  • Bleeding that causes anemia, fatigue, or dizziness
  • Longer menstrual periods
  • Bleeding after getting a pelvic exam

If you experience any of these abnormal types of bleeding, it would be a good idea to visit your doctor as soon as possible.

It might not necessarily be the result of cervical cancer, but any abnormal bleeding in your vagina should be a definite cause for concern.

Foul-Smelling Discharge

Cervical cancer can cause cells in the cervix to die off and cause an infection. This infection in turn causes a foul smelling discharge to come out of the vagina.

The discharge can be pale, watery, brown, or mixed with blood. And this discharge is often foul smelling.

In comparison, the normal discharge coming from your vagina should have almost no smell at all.

If you experience any type of foul smelling discharge, be sure to get it looked at. Aside from being one of the early signs and symptoms of cervical cancer, it can also sometimes be the result of a sexually transmitted infection, or a yeast infection.

Pain During Sex

Pain during sex can mean a number of things, including being one of the early signs and symptoms of cervical cancer.

This pain results from the growth of tumors in the woman’s cervix and vagina which causes pain during intercourse.

Just like pain in the pelvis, pain during sex usually occurs during the latter stages of cervical cancer.

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer in Later Stages

In more advanced stages of cervical cancer, you may experience the following symptoms:

Loss of Appetite or Sudden Weight loss

Loss of appetite or weight loss can also be a sign of cervical cancer. This can also happen when the cancer has spread from the cervix to other parts of the body such as the stomach or the ovaries.

In general, any unexplained weight loss is a cause for concern, and should be discussed with your physician.

Pain in the Lower Back or Near the Pelvis

Pain in the lower back or the pelvis can be associated with problems concerning the reproductive organs. In particular, cervical cancer can also have this symptom.

Continuous pelvic pain is one common symptom of cervical cancer. In cervical cancer’s advanced stages, the pain can extend to the area near appendix as well.

While pelvic pain is a common symptom of cervical cancer, it usually appears in the latter stages of the disease.

Leg Pain

For some women with cervical cancer, leg pain is another possible symptom. This results from the cancerous growth pressing against the nerves of the leg and causing pain.

One marker that you might have cervical cancer is if you experience both leg pain and swelling at the same time. Just like other cancer-related pains, this symptom usually appears during the latter stages of the disease.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it would be a good idea to get in touch with your physician immediately.

Your symptoms might not necessarily be the result of cervical cancer, but it would still be a good idea to get it checked as soon as possible.

The sooner that cancer can be detected, the better the overall prognosis would be. In addition, it would also be a good idea to get vaccinated for cervical cancer to help minimize your risk.

Learn more about cervical cancer, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Cervical Cancer: Symptoms and Signs | Cancer.Net, https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/cervical-cancer/symptoms-and-signs, Accessed July 27 2020

Cervical cancer – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cervical-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352501, Accessed July 27 2020

What are the Symptoms and Signs of Cervical Cancer? | CTCA, https://www.cancercenter.com/cancer-types/cervical-cancer/symptoms, Accessed July 27 2020

Cervical Cancer Symptoms | Signs of Cervical Cancer, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html, Accessed July 27 2020

Cervical cancer – Symptoms – NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-cancer/symptoms/, Accessed July 27 2020

What Are the Symptoms of Cervical Cancer? | CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/symptoms.htm, Accessed July 27 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Nov 09, 2021
Medically reviewed by John Paul Ferolino Abrina, M.D.