January every year is marked as the Cervical health awareness month.
Cervical Health Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about how women can protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is the most common gynecological cancer and a leading cause of cancer death in women in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, cervical cancer kills one woman every hour and over 9000 women every year.
Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina.
Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer.
In the earliest stages of development, there is a lack of visual and physical symptoms to show onset stages of cervical cancer until cancer has begun an invasive spread to surrounding tissue.
Since in the early stages of cervical cancer a person may experience no symptoms at all, women are advised to have regular cervical pap smear tests.
However, there are some typical symptoms that shouldn’t be overlooked and here are 7 of them.
1. Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Usually, a woman experiences small amounts of clear discharge without colour or odour. But in the cases of cervical cancer, a watery, pink or foul-smelling discharge is common.
2. Unusual Bleeding
Of all the symptoms, this is likely the most common. If a woman is experiencing an untimely bout of vaginal bleeding, it could be an indicator of cervical cancer. Abnormal bleeding, such as bleeding between menstrual periods, after sex, after a pelvic exam, or after menopause.
3. Irregular Urination
Peeing often or feeling like you always have to go is a symptom to notice. If you notice strange changes in the frequency of your urine, loss of bladder control (incontinence) or a discoloration – especially with blood – seek the input of a medical professional.
4. Irregular Menstrual Cycles
There should be some level of consistency when it comes to monthly periods. If time, frequency, or any other changes disrupt the regular routine, it may be linked to a future with cervical cancer. Take note of any medication you are on and consult a physician if inconsistencies persist.
5. Painful Sex
Painful intercourse, otherwise known as dyspareunia, is another discomforting side effect of cervical cancer. There are several possible reasons for this symptom to develop, as is the case with many of the symptoms on this list. This symptom is most commonly linked to conditions that require medical attention, however, so it shouldn’t be ignored.
6. Pelvic Pain
Pelvic pain is common among women. Cramping and aches are a normal part of the menstrual cycle and do not usually indicate the presence of cancer or any other serious condition. However, pain that lasts for longer periods of time and occurs more frequently could be a sign of cervical cancer.
7. Unexplained Weight Loss
As with other forms of cancer, unexplained weight loss can indicate cervical cancer. When suffering from cancer, the immune system works hard to fight it.
The body produces small proteins called cytokines, which break down fat at a much higher rate than normal. This leads to weight loss, irrespective of your diet.
If you are suddenly losing weight and have some of the other symptoms mentioned in this article, it could be due to cervical cancer.