Cervical cancer: Expert discusses 'main symptoms' of condition
Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way.
As is the case with any cancer, the sooner you spot the symptoms of the disease the sooner you can seek potentially life-saving treatment.
While cervical cancer doesn’t always present with symptoms in some people, there are certain warning signs to look out for.
With this in mind, gynaecologist at feminine hygiene company Intimina, Doctor Susanna Unsworth, spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk about what to be wary of.
She also urged eligible people to attend cervical screenings when invited by the NHS.
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“Cervical screening identifies abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix, such as the presence of high-risk human papilloma virus (HPV) – the main cause of cervical cancer,” she said.
“These changes often do not cause any symptoms, so regular screening (every three to five years according to age) helps spot any warning signs before they have the chance to develop into cancer.
“Alongside regular screening, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer to look out for to help aid early detection.”
Dr Unsworth warned that pain in certain areas “should be checked out” by a professional.
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She said: “Pain in the lower back or pelvis should be checked out if it does not resolve quickly (for example, two to three weeks), especially if there is no obvious reason for it and it is impacting on your normal daily activities.”
According to the NHS, this pain could be located in the lower back, between your hip bones (pelvis), or in your lower tummy.
This was backed by Dr Nikita Patel, GP and associate medical mirector at Vitality. She told Express.co.uk: “Book in with your GP as soon as possible if you experience lower tummy, pelvic or back pain, or pain during sex.”
Dr Unsworth shared three other symptoms of cervical cancer to look for.
A change in your normal vaginal bleeding is one symptom of cervical cancer.
“Look for bleeding that occurs in between your normal periods, after sex, or new bleeding that occurs after your periods have finished (after menopause),” she said.
She said: “This means changes to your normal vaginal discharge.
“If you feel your discharge has changed, such as it has become thicker, change in colour, change in smell or appears blood stained, I would encourage you to see your doctor about this.”
Pain during penetrative sex could be a sign that something is wrong.
“If you are finding sex is painful, and it is not improving with simple measures such as increasing the use of lubrication, I would encourage you to speak to your doctor about it,” she warned.
It is worth noting that these symptoms can also be caused by conditions such as fibroids or endometriosis.
Dr Unsworth added: “Whilst these symptoms do not mean you have cervical cancer, it is important to get them checked out, as they can also be caused by other problems too.”
To aid the early detection of cervical cancer it is vital eligible people (anyone with a cervix) attends routine smear tests.
If you are aged between 25 and 64 you should receive a letter from the NHS to inform you whenever your next test is due.
It is then your responsibility to book a test at your GP surgery.
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