As with any cancer, early detection is of paramount significance. While early stages of cervical cancer can be asymptomatic (without any symptoms), the first symptoms will likely include any or all of the following:
1. Leg pain
For many women, early-stage cervical cancer is characterized by pain in the legs, as well as swelling. This can be caused by a swollen cervix blocking blood flow, leading to swelling of the legs, and general pain.
2. Unusual urination
Cervical cancer is one of many illnesses that can be detected in urine. Discomfort (stinging pain) while urinating is the most common symptom.
3. Vaginal discharge
Cervical cancer can cause abnormal discharge that is dirty, yellowish, or bloody.
4. Bleeding after intercourse
Tumors in the cervix can cause bleeding as well as swelling and pain. Swelling can be found in the legs, or areas around metastatic lymph nodes. If and when tumors spread to surrounding tissues or organs (bladder, ovaries, etc.), symptoms will appear. Tumors in the bladder will cause frequent and painful urination. Likewise, tumors in the rectum can result in painful and bloody defecation.
In cervical cancer cases, systemic symptoms are less common than local ones. Haematogenous dissemination is rare. Symptoms and signs of distant metastases are unusual during the diagnostic stage of the disease. In advanced stages, tumors can spread through the blood to other tissues and organs, anywhere in the body. Cancer metastasis often affects the cervix, lung, liver, bones and brain.
Metastases in the body will be reflected in affected organs:
Bone metastases: pain in bones, fractures
Lung metastases: breathing difficulties, cough, chocking, haemoptysis.
Liver metastases: pain, tenderness, hepatomegaly (enlarged palpable liver). In severe cases: disruption of metabolic functions in the body, jaundice, weakness, coma.
Brain metastases: severe headaches, vomiting, reduced vision.
Lymph node metastases: swellings, pain.
In rare cases, cervical cancer may cause a paraneoplastic syndrome characterized by:
– hypercalcemia (increased levels of calcium in blood)
– inappropriate values of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone that stimulates adrenal cortex to produce glucocorticoids like cortisol)
– inappropriate values of ADH (antidiuretic hormone that increases re-absorption of water in distal tubule of kidneys).
If you ever experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.