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Four of the ‘most common’ symptoms of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer: Expert discusses 'main symptoms' of condition

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Cervical screenings (i.e. smear tests) are available to women between the ages of 25 to 64. Women up to the age of 49 are invited for a smear test every three years, the NHS points out. From 50 onwards, people are invited every five years, but if you have missed your last cervical screening, you do not need to wait for another invitation to book one.

The charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust says half of all cervical cancers occur in women who have never been screened or are not up-to-date with screening.

Its chief executive, Samantha Dixon, told the BBC: “Through screening and the HPV vaccination, we can eliminate cervical cancer, but that day will get further away if screening uptake falls.”

Cancer Research UK have highlighted four of the “most common” symptoms of cervical cancer to be aware of.

The first is “unusual vaginal bleeding”, which is when there is any type of bleeding at times other than your menstrual period.

READ MORE: Menorrhagia is one of the most ‘common signs’ of cancer – ‘Seek appointment with your GP’


Any bleeding between periods, during or after sex, or any time after the menopause, should be reported to your doctor.

In some cases, bleeding after sex can be caused by ectropion, which is when the cells usually inside of the cervical canal are on the outside surface of the cervix.

This “harmless” condition can be brought on by hormonal changes, which can occur during pregnancy or when taking the contraceptive pill.

Another possible indication of cervical cancer to be aware of is “pain or discomfort during sex”.

“You should see your doctor straight away if you [experience] this,” the charity states.

Any vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant should also be reported to your doctor; as should any pain felt in the area between the hip bones.

Four common signs of cervical cancer:

  1. Unusual vaginal bleeding
  2. Pain or discomfort during sex
  3. Vaginal discharge
  4. Pain in the area between the hip bones (pelvis).

What is cervical cancer?

Cancer Research UK explains: “Cervical cancer is when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way and eventually form a growth (tumour).

READ MORE: Menorrhagia is one of the most ‘common signs’ of cancer – ‘Seek appointment with your GP’

“If not caught early cancer cells gradually grow into the surrounding tissues and may spread to other areas of the body.”

The cervix, which is a strong muscle that is the opening from the vagina to the womb, is covered in a layer of skin-like cells, known as the ectocervix.

While cervical screening “is not a test for cancer”, it can pick up on abnormal cell development in that area, which could turn cancerous.

The charity says cervical cancer is most common in women who are in their early 30s.

“The main cause of cervical cancer is long-lasting (persistent) infection of certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV),” the charity adds.

“HPV is a common virus, and in most cases your immune system clears the infection without any problems.”

Women who have already had one strain of HPV would “still benefit” from HPV vaccination, the Mayo Clinic noted.

“It can protect you from other strains that you don’t yet have. However, none of the vaccines can treat an existing HPV infection.”

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  • Posted on January 26, 2023