Symptoms

of Cervical Cancer

Early-stage cervical cancer generally produces no signs or symptoms, however symptoms of more advanced cervical cancer may include:

  • Vaginal bleeding after intercourse.
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods or after menopause
  • Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor
  • Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse

Cause

Cervical cancer begins when healthy cells acquire a genetic change (mutation) that causes them to turn into abnormal cells. Although it isn’t clear what causes cervical cancer the human papilloma virus (HPV) clearly plays a role.

The type of cervical cancer helps determine the prognosis and treatment. The main types of cervical cancer are:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) lining the outer part of the cervix, which projects into the vagina.
  • Adenocarcinoma begins in the column-shaped glandular cells that line the cervical canal.

Risk factors

Risk factors for cervical cancer include:

  • Human Papilloma Virus
  • Multiple sexual partners. The greater the number of sexual partners the greater the greater your chance of acquiring HPV.
  • Early sexual activity. Having sex at an early age increases the risk of HPV.
  • A weak immune system. Individuals are more likely to develop cervical cancer if their immune system is weakened by another health condition and infection with HPV.
  • Smoking. Smoking is associated with squamous cell cervical cancer.1,2

Next: Diagnosis & Tests for Cervical Cancer

References

1 American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2012.

2 National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet. Human Papillomaviruses and Cancer: Questions and Answers.