Cervical cancer is a potentially deadly form of cancer that is expected to claim the lives of over 4,000 American women in 2021. While it was once the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, advances in screening and early detection have now made this disease one of the most preventable. Annual pap smear tests to check for pre-cancerous changes in the cells lining the cervix are able to catch many cancers before they have a chance to develop.
Pre-cancerous cells and even early stages of cervical cancer often produce no symptoms, a key reason that these annual pap tests are so vital. However, when symptoms are present, they often include the following:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding – This can include bleeding following intercourse, bleeding in between menstrual cycles, or bleeding after menopause. Periods that are heavier or last longer than is typical may also be an indicator that something is wrong.
- Vaginal discharge – While some vaginal discharge is perfectly normal, there are distinctions that can point to a problem. If discharge has a bad odor, contains blood, or appears watery or brown it is time to consult a physician.
- Painful intercourse
- Pelvic or lower back pain
Advanced Signs of Cervical Cancer
While the above symptoms often do not appear until the cancer has begun to grow, there are additional signs that may develop in the more advanced stages of the disease. These can include:
- Leg pain and swelling – As the cancer grows, it can begin to cause pressure on nerves in the pelvic region resulting in painful and swollen legs. While this is certainly an issue that should be investigated with a medical professional, it is important to note that many other conditions can also cause these problems.
- Blood in urine
- Difficulty urinating or having bowel movements
Cervical Cancer Treatment in the Baton Rouge Area
For all women, maintaining a relationship with a gynecologist is a key component for long-term health. If you are currently experiencing symptoms of cervical cancer or are in need of a gynecological health services, contact Lane OB/GYN today to schedule an appointment.