Cervical Cancer: Warning Signs You Need to Know

By on 05/11/2017

Just over 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, making it the 3rd most common cancer diagnosed in women. Worse, about 4,000 women die each year from cervical cancer.

There are simple warning signs and health tips you need to know in order to make sure you aren’t one of the unlucky ones.

What Causes Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is caused by HPV (Human Papillomavirus), multiple sexual partners, engaging in sexual activity at a young age, taking birth control pills, smoking and genetics (if family members have ever been diagnosed, your chances go away up). It is important to note that most HPV cases do not turn into cancer, and not every woman who has many sexual partners is guaranteed to develop cervical cancer. At the same time, research has shown that all of these factors are linked to a significantly higher occurrence rate.

Warning Signs of Cervical Cancer

Any of the following symptoms could indicate cervical cancer or other major cervical problems. If you are experiencing any symptoms from this list, it is a good idea to reach out to your doctor and schedule an exam.

Signs of cervical cancer include:

  • Irregular bleeding and bleeding in between periods
  • Heavier than normal periods
  • Leg pain (Caused by swollen cervix restricting blood flow)
  • Irregular vaginal discharge (strange color or odor)
  • Painful urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Back pain
  • Uterine cramps/uncomfortableness not associated with your menstrual cycle
  • Unexpected weight loss and fatigue

Ways to Reduce Your Risk

Prevention is key when it comes to protecting yourself against cervical cancer. Starting at age 21 or when you become sexually active (whichever comes first), annual Pap smears are one of the best ways to catch pre-cancer cells and have them removed before they form into cancer. Another critical screening is for HPV, as if caught early enough, it can be treated and stop cancer before it starts.

Beyond preventative testing, women can also opt to receive the HPV vaccine, which is recommended for girls age 11-12, but can be given anywhere from ages 9 – 26. Some argue this vaccine is unnecessary as it comes with some risks and annual Pap tests will catch any questionable cells long before they turn into cancerous cells. On the other hand, many argue this vaccine is still crucial as it has been proven safe and effective by the FDA in preventing HPV and all associated complications. hpv-vaccine

Finally, not smoking, using condoms during sex, and limiting your number of sexual partners are all additional ways you can reduce your risk of cervical cancer.

While no cancer is 100% preventable, you can easily take these steps to significantly reduce your risk of cervical cancer, which is not an easy battle to fight and claims over 4,000 lives a year. Protect yourself!

About modernhealthproject

Hi there! This is my little blog project where I am trying to learn more about health, wellness and living a balanced life, while also sharing a bit of my silly side as well. By "silly" I mean sarcastic. And by "a bit" I mean way too much. Sorry about that.♥ - Anna

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