Abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix do not cause symptoms on most occasions. If the cell changes lead to cancer, some symptoms appear. Initially cervical cancer can also be asymptomatic. Following are the symptoms of early stage of cervical carcinoma.
- Pain during sex
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Drastic changes in menstrual cycle
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods or after sex or after menopause.
Symptoms of advanced cervical carcinoma include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Pelvic pain
- Back pain
- Swollen legs
- leg pain
- Heavy vaginal bleeding and
- Leakage of urine or feces from vagina
Prevention of cervical cancer can be achieved by getting the pap tests done at regular intervals of 3-5 years. The pap test schedule depends on the age of the person and the risk factors involved. Pap test help in the detection of abnormal cell changes in the cervix. These abnormal cell changes can be precancerous which can turn cancerous. The first step would be to find and treat these precancerous cells before they become malignant. The second step would be to prevent the precancerous cells.
Since HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer, it is recommended to get HPV vaccination done. Cervarix and Gardasil vaccines give protection against two types of HPV that cause cervical carcinoma. A woman should be 26 years or younger to get the vaccine and for a man, he should be 21 years or younger. The recommended age for children is 11 or 12 but can be given as early as 9 years.