Cervical cancer does not typically cause noticeable symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Routine Pap screening is important to check for abnormal cells in the cervix, so they can be monitored and treated as early as possible. Most women are advised to get a Pap test starting at age 21.
The Pap test is one of the most reliable and effective cancer screening methods available, and women should have yearly exams by an OB-GYN. However, the Pap test may not detect some cases of abnormal cells in the cervix. The HPV test screens women for the high-risk HPV strains that may lead to cervical tumors. It is approved for women over age 30.
Although screening methods are not 100 percent accurate, these tests are often an effective method for detecting cervical cancer in the early stages when it is still highly treatable. Talk with your doctor about which type of cervical cancer screening is right for you.Early warning signs of cervical cancer
When present, common symptoms of a tumor that develops in the cervix may include vaginal bleeding, including bleeding between periods, after sexual intercourse or post-menopausal bleeding; unusual vaginal discharge, which may be watery, pink or foul-smelling; and pelvic pain.
All of these cervical cancer symptoms should be discussed with your doctor.Signs of advanced cervical cancer
Cervical cancer may spread (metastasize) within the pelvis, to the lymph nodes or form tumors elsewhere in the body. Signs of advanced cervical cancer include:
Next topic: What are the types of cervical cancer?