One of the most common cancers that affect women is cervical cancer and if it’s not detected early and treated it can be life-threatening.
Although cervical or cervix cancer can be deadly it’s preventable and can be treated if detected early. Cervical cancer is most commonly caused by HPV or the human papillomavirus, and it’s highly contagious. The virus is sexually transmitted (sexually transmitted infection) and comes in many types but only some cause cervical cancer.
Sometimes an HPV infection might go without treatment or cause abnormal cell growth which may lead to cervical cancer. The signs of cervical cancer may not be obvious like that of breast cancer but here are some things you should look out for;
1. Unusual discharge
If you notice watery discharge or your discharge suddenly changed, contact your doctor. When cancer starts growing inside the cervix, the cells of the uterine wall begin to rid, thereby producing a watery discharge.
If you notice small warts whether internally or externally it might be a sign. According to gynecologist Rosa Maria Leme, “The appearance of small warts (externally or internally) serve as a red flag…diseases such as HPV, which can greatly increase the chances of cervical cancer in women.”
3. Pain or bleeding
Besides your menstrual period, any other bleeding you experience shouldn’t be ignored. When cervical cancer grows on the walls of the cervix, it can dry out and even crack thereby causing discomfort and bleeding.
If you suddenly start feeling tired than normal or your heart rate increases after doing normal exercises this might be a symptom of anaemia. And one of the causes of anaemia is abnormal bleeding which follows cervical cancer.
5. Urinary problems
If you are unable to completely empty your bladder it will be uncomfortable and may lead to urinary tract infection. This is because when the cervix swells, the bladder and the kidneys may be compressed, blocking the passage of urine in the process.
6. Continuous pain in the legs, hips or back
When the cervix is swollen it will compress the internal organs and the blood vessels may also be compressed in the process. If this happens, the blood flow to the pelvis and legs may be blocked causing pains in the legs and ankles.
7. Weight loss
When the cervix is swollen, it can compress the stomach allowing you to be able to eat only a small amount of food. Meaning, you’ll lose appetite and may lose weight.
Meanwhile, it might be worthwhile to note that not all of these symptoms are signs of cervical cancer. But if you notice any of these signs you might want to contact your doctor just to be safe.
Factors that increases the risk of developing HPV include
- Smoking or breathing in smoke and fumes
- Having more than one sexual partners
- Having sex without protection
- Low immunity
STI is the most common cause of cervical cancer which is why being aware of the risk factors and symptoms of HPV is very important for every woman.
For prevention, a pap smear test can be done every year to help detect cervical cancer early on and treat it before it’s too late.