Cervical cancer is a tumor that develops in the cells of the cervix. This type of cancer is ranked 2nd among the most prevalent female cancers in the world. According to WHO, a woman dies of uterine cancer every two minutes. On the other hand, several doctors have revealed that nearly 90% of patients diagnosed with cervical cancer develop certain symptoms that should not be neglected.
How does the disease manifest itself?
The early stages of the disease are asymptomatic; that is, the symptoms do not manifest themselves. Nevertheless, some doctors have revealed that the first symptoms that indicate that the disease is at an advanced stage are
The main symptoms are:
- Bleeding between periods of menstruation
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse, vaginal douche or gynecological examination
- Menstrual periods that are more abundant than usual and that last longer
- Bleeding after entering menopause
- Frequent vaginal discharge
- Pain in the pelvis area
- Pain during intercourse:
1. Urinary burns, pain or difficulty emptying the bladder
Cervical cancer can be diagnosed by performing regular urine analysis. In case the disease has been detected using urine, this implies that the tumor has reached the surrounding tissues and that it is absolutely necessary to see a specialist. The doctors confirm that the urinary burns are rather common symptoms in women who have cancer of the uterus. Urinary burns are not just a sign of bladder infection, so consult a specialist.
2. Pain in the legs, Pain in the pelvis area
In the early stages of the disease, some women experience leg pain and swelling. Following the first phases, the cervix is also swollen and can impede blood flow. This causes swelling and pain in the legs.
3. Bleeding after intercourse
With the development of the tumor in the cervix, the amount of blood becomes more abundant, irregular and accompanied by pain in the pelvis, spine and legs. Some patients suffer from swelling of the lower limbs. In this case, the tumor has entered the last phase (metastatic tumor) and compresses the blood vessels.
In the case where the tumor spreads, it can touch the bladder and cause urinary burns and hematuria (presence of blood in the urine).
When the tumor affects the rectum, it can develop symptoms such as tenesmus (pain in the anus), difficult or painful stools, and blood in the stool. If the tumor affects the ureters (upper urinary tract) it can cause hydronephrosis; an increase in the volume of the pelvis (organ that receives urine formed in the renal tissue and ensures its flow into the ureter) or renal failure.
In more advanced stages, this can cause vesico-vaginal fistula (abnormal communication between the bladder and the vagina) or recto-vaginal (abnormal communication between the rectum and the vagina).
In less frequent cases, other diseases may accompany cancer of the cervix. These diseases are systemic manifestations; that is, they occur at a distance from the place where the cancer develops following the production of a substance by the tumor.
A haematogenous diffusion (transport of particles in the body by the blood) is rare. Especially during the early stages of the disease.
However, during advanced stages of the disease, the tumor can spread through the blood and affect different organs and tissues of the body. Therefore, in the case of bone metastases, the patient will suffer bone pain that can even fracture.
In the case of lung metastases, the patient will have difficulty breathing. Other symptoms may occur such as coughing, shortness of breath and hemoptysis (shedding of blood).
If the tumor affects the liver, it will cause disruption of several metabolic functions in the body such as jaundice, a weak immune system, and even coma.
In cases where the tumor affects the brain, it can cause neurological symptoms such as severe headaches, vomiting, diplopia (double vision) and balance disorders.
Other symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, anemia, uremia (the amount of urea secreted by the liver in the blood), and secondary infections.
A paraneoplastic syndrome refers to all abnormalities that may accompany certain cancers such as:
· Hypercalcemia (a high calcium level in the blood).
· Disruption of the adrenocorticotropic hormone which stimulates the adrenal cortex to produce glucocorticoids such as cortisol.