Cervical cancer still stays one of the most complicated health issues among women throughout the world. Cervical cancer is very difficult to identify at early stages, but your awareness can stand you in good stead. Learn what early symptoms of cervical cancer are, and how they can be suppressed. Here are pieces of advice from German doctors.
In fact, pre-cancer and early cancer stages are hard to identify, because tumor is too small and does not cause any discomfort, pain or symptoms. It can be revealed by screening only – self-test is simply impossible. For this reason, regular screening should be done by women after 21. Well-timed disease identification allows curing it quickly and effectively, and minimizing complications.
As soon as cancer tumor grows bigger and affects different body parts, symptoms tend to appear. These include:
- Vaginal discharge of transparent or bloody color. It may have unpleasant smell.
- Pain in cervix and abdomen.
- Blood from vagina between periods, or after sex. It can show up as blood-streaked discharge from vagina, sometimes dismissed as spotting. If bleeding is experienced after menopause, it is definitely not normal.
- Pain and discomfort when having sex.
- Vaginal bleeding after douching and cervix examination.
A female can face one or several of these symptoms. Even if one of them reveals, this is a reason to go through screening, because it may be cancer of 2 and 3 stage, which means it should be treated immediately.
You have been diagnosed with HPV? Note that although the disease itself is not considered to be a symptom, it is the root of problem in 70% of cases. So if you are infected, examination should be performed as a preventative measure.
As it has been mentioned, well-timed detection of disease is performed with the help of screening only. Today, Pap smear is basic screening method that allows identifying pre-cancer and cancer cells presence. The procedure is not complicated:
- A woman sits in a gynecological examination chair, and a doctor fixes a speculum in vagina to ease access to cervix.
- Using a soft cotton brush, a doctor takes samples of vagina and cervix cells and mucus.
- The material is put on a slide or into a bottle with fluid to be tested in laboratory.
Laboratory workers examine the sample and search for abnormal cells. If there are any, it is a reason to perform additional examinations, for instance, biopsy and loop electro-surgical excision procedure. In this case, bigger pieces of tissue are taken and are also examined in laboratory. They allow stating a 100% precise diagnosis. Note that Pap test may not be enough to approve cancer presence: some cell alterations and mutations are conditioned by other causes and diseases. Besides, this method is not absolutely reliable because some parts of tissues may stay unchecked. Combination of these screening methods is most reliable.
Pap smear screening should be done by women who had more than three full-time pregnancies, took oral contraceptives during several years, and smoke. These factors also trigger cervical cancer quite often. If you have unprotected sex, and several sexual partners, a high risk of HPV appears. Consequently, cervical screening in this case should also be performed regularly (once in a year or 6 months).
In fact, the symptoms may go away without any treatment, but this effect is more likely to be temporary. They can return and become worse, if the main reason – cancer – is not treated. How to get rid of them? The answer is simple: early signs and symptoms of cervical cancer are eliminated when treatment is rendered. As soon as you start going through chemo, radiation or operation, concentration of malignant cells will reduce, which in its turn will bring relief.
Besides, you cannot just reveal but avoid these symptoms by preventing cancer. How? Avert catching HPV: use condoms for sex, do not have several sex partners. A sensible option is to make a vaccine – it is not expensive, and guarantees high level of protection.
Today, survival rate of women with cancer has grown up in developed countries. This is due to the fact that people are becoming aware about the disease and its early symptoms. Those who do screening regularly decrease the risk of getting cancer several times. You don’t have to spend much time and money on it: the procedure of Pap smear sample intake requires a few minutes, and results can be obtained even via E-mail. Besides, mobile health units exist in some countries: any woman can go through screening (medical insurance is required only). You have every chance to stay healthy, so use it!