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What Are Cervical Cancer Symptoms & When to See a Doctor?

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For every ailment, there’s a cause, a symptom, and a cure, and cervical cancer is no different. Cervical is derived from the root word, ‘cervix’ which can only be found in women.

The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus that forms a canal between the uterus and the vagina. The cervix links the vagina (birth canal) to the upper part of the uterus (womb). This canal allows the passage of fluids to flow inside and out of your uterus.

According to medical experts, cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells in the body grow out of control and have the ability to destroy normal body tissue. Cancer is always named for the part of the body it starts and if not treated, it can spread to other body parts.

Cervical cancer, therefore, occurs in the cells of the cervix. In this article, we take you through all you need to know about cervical cancer, its causes, symptoms, treatment, and how to prevent it !!!

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What Is Cervical Cancer?

As stated earlier, cancer is always named for the part of the body it starts, hence cervical cancer starts in cells on the surface of the cervix (the canal) that connects the lower part of a woman’s uterus to her vagina.

Cervical cancer affects the entrance to the womb (Uterus). Note that, it affects only women and every woman is at risk of getting cervical cancer, but it occurs mostly in women over age 30.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer?

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In the early stages of most ailments, a person might not experience any symptoms at all, and cervical cancer it’s no different. For this reason, medical experts deem it prudent for women to have regular cervical smear tests or Pap tests. Below are some of the most common symptoms of cervical cancer.

  1. Unusual vaginal bleeding (bleeding during or after sex)
  2. Having unusual heavier periods
  3. Changes in your vaginal discharge
  4. A chronic pain during sex
  5. Bleeding in between your periods or after menopause
  6. Vaginal discharge with a strong odor
  7. Vaginal discharge stained with blood
  8. Pelvic pain, lower back pain, or in your lower tummy

When To See A Doctor?

According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), you have to see a doctor immediately after you start to have some of the symptoms mentioned above.

One great and easy ways to see a doctor to treat Cervical Cancer is by using the GAPHealth App. The GAPHealth app gives you the opportunity to book appointments with doctors to talk about your sickness. It saves you a lot by cutting down cost of transportation and avoid joining long queues at the hospital by booking appointments with doctors ahead of time. CLICK HERE to download GAPHealth Patient App. Even if you’re not sure or worried about the symptoms, don’t delay seeing a doctor or a specialist.

 Types Of Cervical Cancer

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According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), cervical cancer varies from person to person but the type of cervical cancer you have depends on the type of cell with the cancer.

The cervix has an outer surface that opens into the vagina (ectocervix) and an inner surface that lines the cervical canal (endocervix). These surfaces are covered by two types of cells called, Squamous cells and Glandular cells.

  1. Squamous cells – flat, thin cells that cover the outer surface of the cervix (ectocervix). The most common type of cancer starts here (about 70% of cases).
  2. Glandular cells – column-shaped cells that cover the inner surface of the cervix (cervical canal or endocervix). In this cell, a less common type of cancer begins here and is difficult to diagnose because it occurs higher up in the cervix.
  3. A small number of cervical cancers are a combination of both squamous cells and glandular cells. These cancers are known as adenosquamous carcinomas or mixed carcinomas.
  4. Other rarer types of cancer that can start in the cervix include small-cell carcinoma, clear-cell adenocarcinoma, and cervical sarcoma.

What Are The Early Signs Of Cervical Cancer?

In most cases, vaginal bleeding is the first symptom of cervical cancer. This usually occurs after having sex. A cervical cancer patient can also bleed at any other time aside from the expected monthly period and also bleeding after menopause. Below are some of the early signs of cervical cancer.

  1. Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding: This is very common and it happens after cancer spreads to nearby tissue.
  2. Fatigue: At a point in time, we all experience fatigue sometimes, but when it becomes draining, pay attention to it because the more advanced
  3. Pain During Sexual Intercourse: The cancer growth throughout the tissues and reproductive organs is what causes this pain and if you notice this, do not ignore it.
  4. Loss of Appetite: Another early sign is loss of appetite, this is a warning you should not ignore.
  5. Unexplained Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss is a warning sign of cervical cancer especially when it continues regardless of your food consumption.
  6. Foul Smelling Vaginal Discharge: This warning sign is common with the onset of cervical cancer. This is because some cells may die off hence creating a foul-smelling vaginal discharge.

How To Prevent Cervical Cancer?

Even though every woman above age 30 is at risk of getting cervical cancer, this can be prevented. Below are some of the ways an individual can prevent cervical cancer.

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  1. Screening for cervical cancer
  2. HPV test
  3. Limit your number of sexual partners
  4. HPV Vaccine
  5. Use condoms during sex
  6. Treat STIs and STDs well
  7. Limit your number of sexual partners

Where Does Cervical Cancer Usually Start?

As stated earlier, cancer is always named for the part of the body it starts, hence cervical cancer starts in cells on the surface of the cervix (the canal) that connects the lower part of a woman’s uterus to her vagina. This canal allows the passage of fluids to flow inside and out of your uterus.

How To Treat Cervical Cancer?

Depending on the type and stage of your cancer, a doctor or specialist will decide on a treatment plan for you. Cervical cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

For the earliest stages, either surgery or radiation combined with chemo may be used. For later stages, radiation combined with chemo is usually the main treatment. Chemo is often used to treat advanced cervical cancer.

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Doctors on the treatment team may include;

  1. A gynecologist: a doctor who treats diseases of the female reproductive system
  2. A radiation oncologist: a doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer
  3. A medical oncologist: a doctor who uses chemotherapy and other medicines to treat cancer
  4. A gynecologic oncologist: a doctor who specializes in cancers of the female reproductive system, can perform surgery and also prescribe chemotherapy and other medicines

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