It is hard to detect precancerous cells which cause cervical cancer because many women have no signs of pain.
Cervical cancer tends to cause no visible signs, which would indicate cancer like abnormal vaginal discharge or pelvic pain when it is initially developing. This is especially true in younger women. Since no woman can predict when she is going to get the HPV strains, which cause cervical cancer, all women are advised to get regular pap smears when they turn 16. Doing so can save their lives because this screening test can detect cervical cancer in the early stages when it is most treatable.
Cervical cancer generally develops into tumors and metastasis by the time women notice any visible symptoms. Some telltale signs of cervical cancer are:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Painful intercourse
- Kidney failure
Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Women with advanced cervical cancer oftentimes bleed after sex, after they have entered menopause, and bleeding between periods. Another telltale symptom of cervical cancer is more prolonged and heavier periods, and bleeding after douching or pap smear.
Abnormal vaginal discharge
Women who have cervical cancer have strangely colored vaginal discharge. In some instances, it is tinged with blood. They can also experience bleeding between periods and after they enter menopause.
One sign of advanced cervical cancer is painful sex.
In advanced stages of cervical cancer, the tumors can be large enough to block urine from flowing out of the bladder and into the urethra. Urination can be difficult and painful. Some women may even experience urinary incontinence.
Many of these women will also experience pain in their pelvises.
You should know that women can experience all these symptoms and still not have cervical cancer. She may have an STD or other bad pelvic or vaginal infection. But any woman who has any of the symptoms mentioned above should see her ob-gyn for a pelvic exam – it could save her life.
While almost all women are at risk of developing cervical cancer because nearly all women will contract some strain of HPV in their lifetimes, some women are at a higher risk than others. A woman’s risk is higher if:
- She has multiple sexual partners
- She begins sexual activity in her prepubescent or early teenage years
- She contracts various forms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Her immune system is weak
- She smokes
- She takes DES
- She uses birth control pills for many years
Multiple sexual partners
Women who have vaginal sex with many men have more exposure and more opportunities to get an HPV strain, which causes cervical cancer.
Early sexual activity
Women who have sex while being 12 or older but younger than 18 are at higher risk partly because they are not as likely to use birth control and partly because they tend to have sex with men who are much older than them.
Certain STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS makes a woman more likely to get certain strains of HPV.
Weaker immune systems
Since a woman’s immune system kills the viruses that cause HPV and kills abnormal cells in her cervix, she needs to have a robust immune system. If her immune system is weaker, she is more likely to develop various STDs and HPV. A more vulnerable immune system will also impair her white blood cells’ ability to fight abnormal, precancerous cells.
Smoking weakens the immune system, and this makes women who smoke more likely to get HPV and cervical cancer.
DCS is a medicine that was given to women in the 1950’s to lower their chances of miscarrying. Women whose mothers took this drug are at a greater risk to develop a type of cervical cancer, which is called clear cell adenocarcinoma.
She uses birth control pills for many years
Prolonged use of birth control pills has been known to cause cervical cancer in women because they dramatically increase her estrogen levels.
How to prevent cervical cancer?
Doctors use the following cervical preventative measures to try to keep high-risk women from getting cervical cancer. These are:
- Healthy lifestyle and diet
- Staying away from substances and things which cause cervical cancers
- Taking medicines which prevent precancerous cells from developing
- Getting the HPV vaccine
- Practicing safe sex
Healthy lifestyle and diet
Leafy green vegetables and colored fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants that reverse the damage that individual particles in the environment cause to cells. These antioxidants repair cells with damaged DNA and help the immune system suppress or even kill these cells. Exercise is important because it flushes the toxins which contribute to cervical cancer out. Not smoking helps because it keeps the immune system stronger, and it keeps the DNA of cells from being damaged by the more than 7,000 harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke, many of which cause cancer.
Keeping away from substances and things which cause cervical cancer
This includes not smoking, not drinking alcohol excessively, and not taking illegal drugs. All these substances lower the immune system and introduce chemicals into the body. Which causes irreparable damage to the DNA in specific cells. This is what makes precancerous cells to develop and grow into cancerous tumors.
Taking medicines which keep precancerous cells from developing
These medicines can strengthen the immune system and attack precancerous cells. Both dramatically reduce a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer.
Getting the HPV vaccine
Gardasil is one vaccine that keeps many women from developing cervical cancer because it makes their immune systems strong enough to fight off the two harmful strains of HPV as they grow.
When should a woman see a doctor?
Women should see the doctor when they experience one or more of the symptoms mentioned above. These include:
- Menopausal women who bleed from the vagina
- Extremely heavy periods – those who require women to change a thick pad or tampon at least once an hour
- Bleeding between periods
- Bleeding after aggressive sex