Symptoms of cervical cancer : What should be of concern?

The signs and symptoms of cervical cancer vary depending on the disease’s stage. The precancerous conditions under which cervical cancer develops, in particular, frequently cause no symptoms (even for many years). Unfortunately, early cancer detection offers the best chance for a cure.

One of the most common cancers is cervical cancer. Because it was discovered too late, it is dangerous. Women who have been exposed to the human papillomavirus, or HPV, are especially susceptible to the development of its oncogenic types 16 or 18.

Cervical cancer symptoms start to show up quite late. In the beginning, they are typically not present. Additionally, dysplastic changes indicative of cancer frequently do not raise any red flags. That is why yearly gynecological exams are crucial, and cytology in particular (once every 3 years or every year in high-risk groups).

Early symptoms of cervical cancer

The first sign of cervical cancer may be chronic inflammation in the cervix, which is often not felt by the woman but can be confirmed by a cytological examination ( cytology). This test also allows for the early detection of precancerous lesions and cervical cancer. Cervical cancer symptoms can include light spotting between periods or an increase in vaginal discharge.

Clinical symptoms of cervical cancer

Clinical symptoms most often appear in the more advanced stage of cervical cancer, when the tumor grows and compresses or invades other organs, and when metastases occur.

Symptoms of cervical cancer may include:

  • abnormal vaginal bleeding, including  breakthrough bleeding ,
  • soreness in the lower abdomen , especially pain during intercourse or during gynecological examination,
  • bleeding during or after intercourse , or after a gynecological examination,
  • prolonged and/or heavy menstruation ,
  • vaginal bleeding after menopause ,
  • bruised discharge with an unpleasant odor,
  • swelling of the lower limbs ,
  • persistent back pain,
  • persistent pelvic pain, 
  • urination disorders,  if there is an infiltration by bladder cancer,
  • urinary retention in the kidney, hydronephrosis,  nephritis  or generalized uremia and intoxication of the body when  the tumor presses on the ureter,
  • painful tenesmus, rectal bleeding ,  diarrhea or constipation when cervical cancer invades  the rectum,
  • in the case of distant metastases to the lungs and bones – the symptoms are characteristic of the affected organ.

Cervical cancer symptoms are not specific, which means they can also indicate other conditions. As a result, a more thorough gynecological examination is required, including cytology and, if the results are troubling, a histopathological examination.

Cervical cancer symptoms are frequently difficult, if not impossible, to treat. When cancer is detected at an early stage, the chances of a cure are greatest. If any of the above symptoms occur, you should see a doctor as soon as possible; abnormal vaginal bleeding, in particular, necessitates medical consultation to rule out cancer.



4th Professional Medical Student. Karachi Medical and Dental College.

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