In the early stages of cervical cancer, women typically have no symptoms. The earliest sign is likely to be an abnormal Pap smear detected during a routine gynecologic examination. Cervical cancer develops very slowly, so this symptom-free stage can last for years. If, however, precancerous cells are detected in a Pap smear, the condition is 100 percent treatable at this stage.
The most advanced cervical cancers usually are found in women who do not get regular Pap smears or who have not followed up with their doctors after receiving an abnormal Pap smear result.
As cervical cancer develops, women may notice the following symptoms:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause. However, abnormal bleeding can also be caused by other conditions.
- Continuous vaginal discharge that is pale, pink or watery
- Periods that are heavier than usual and last longer than usual
In very advanced cases of cervical cancer that has spread to the bladder, intestines, lungs or liver, women may notice the following symptoms:
- Back pain
- Bone pain and fractures
- Leaking of urine or stool from vagina
- Leg pain
- Loss of appetite
- Pelvic pain
- A swollen leg
- Weight loss