Obstetrics & Gynecology in Augusta, GA

Important Signs of Cervical Cancer and How to Check

Part of practicing good reproductive health is undergoing regular cancer screenings. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are approximately 11,500 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in the United States annually.

To protect your health and well-being, getting the right diagnostics from a doctor of gynecology is key.

Read on to learn more about some important signs of cervical cancer, and how to check for them so you can get ahead of this disease.

Gynecology 101: Cervical Cancer Basics

Before we discuss the potential signs of cervical cancer, it’s important to understand what this type of cancer is. Cervical cancer affects the cervical cells, which are located in the cervix. The cervix connects the birth canal to the upper part of the uterus or the womb.

Patient statistics vary, but cervical cancer is most common in women over the age of 30. People who have a long-lasting infection of specific types of human papillomavirus (HPV) are at high risk.

The HPV virus is passed from one person to another via sexual intercourse, and almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV. Patients with HIV or those who smoke are also at a higher risk of cervical cancer. Women with a weakened immune system or who have used immunosuppressive medications are also at risk.

When the disease is detected early, cervical cancer is much more treatable and has a higher survival rate. That’s why understanding the risks, signs, and screening options is so important.


Unusual Bleeding

Many of the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer remain unchecked, especially early on. Abnormal or unusual bleeding is one of the most common and perhaps the easiest cervical cancer symptoms to detect.

You may start to notice that you’re bleeding in between periods when you typically have a normal monthly cycle. You might also notice bleeding after participating in sexual intercourse.

Aside from bleeding, you may notice an increase in vaginal discharge. Any discharge with a strong or unusual odor could be a warning sign that cervical cancer is present.

Women who notice vaginal bleeding who have already been through menopause should speak to their doctor of gynecology right away, as this is particularly abnormal. No matter what, if you experience unusual bleeding, it’s always a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to rule out any potential issues.

Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain or discomfort are also common signs of potential cervical cancer. As the disease progresses, it may cause increasing pain in the pelvic region that can range from a mild, dull ache to more sharp and stabbing pains.

If your pelvic pain is not associated with your period, you should get tested. Some women may experience pain during intercourse if they have cervical cancer.

Most pain located here is due to the changes the cervix is undergoing. It can also be a result of the spreading of cancer to surrounding tissue. Some people may also experience extreme, sharp pain in the lower back area.

Sudden Weight Loss and Fatigue

Rapid, unexplained weight loss and increasing fatigue can be caused by a number of factors including lack of sleep, improper diet, or stress. However, if you notice that you’ve lost weight rapidly, it could be a symptom associated with cervical cancer or another type of cancer.

As cancer spreads or progresses, your body may start to lose weight without you even trying. Ongoing, persistent fatigue is another cause for concern.

If you notice that you have low energy and feel tired more frequently, this may be a sign of cervical cancer. When a patient has cancer, the cancer cells use a significant amount of the body’s energy. This may lead to unrelenting feelings of fatigue and tiredness, especially as time goes on.

Bowel and Bladder Changes

If the cervical cancer is advanced, it may put pressure on nearby organs. This can lead to changes in your bowel or bladder habits.

An example might be that you’ve started to notice that you need to use the restroom more often than you used to. You might experience higher urinary frequency or the constant urge to urinate, constipation, or you could have trouble emptying your bladder.

If it starts to hurt when you urinate, talk to your doctor right away. Blood in the stool or urine is also a major cause for concern and should be addressed by a medical professional as soon as possible.

How to Check for Cervical Cancer

Early screening and detection is the best way to treat and beat cervical cancer. Routine screenings like a pap smear and an HPV test are vital in early cervical cancer detection.

A pap smear identifies abnormal cells on the cervix before they become cancerous. This allows for early detection and intervention.

An HPV test can also help your doctor of gynecology and obstetrics check for the presence of high-risk human papillomavirus. The presence of the virus is a major contributing factor to cervical cancer.

Getting the vaccination against HPV is one of the best ways to prevent cervical cancer. This vaccine is the most effective when given to patients before they take part in any sexual activity. It protects against a variety of high-risk HPV strains, thereby lessening the possibility of cervical cancer later in life.

Understanding the signs, getting regular screenings like a pap smear, and getting the proper vaccines can help reduce your risk of cervical cancer. Talk to your gynecologist about making an appointment to get these crucial screenings as soon as possible.

Get Screened Today

Now that you know more about the risks, signs, and symptoms of cervical cancer, you can be armed with the knowledge you need to be proactive about your health. Schedule a pap smear and other screening tests with your doctor of gynecology and obstetrics so you’re on top of your physical health and well-being.

If you’re looking for a caring and compassionate gynecologist, Women’s Health of Augusta is here for you. Please contact us or visit our office to schedule your appointment.