The symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious. More commonly in the U.S., cervical cancer may be diagnosed on a routine pelvic exam performed by your gynecologist or other women’s health provider. Abnormal cells may be detected on a Pap test or a mass may be seen on the cervix. A biopsy may be taken that will show cancer. When this happens, your doctor will send you to a specialist like me, a gynecologic oncologist.
However, there are some symptoms that could alert you to the possibility of cervical cancer:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as heavier than normal periods, bleeding with sex, bleeding in between periods, or sporadic bleeding should be evaluated by a women’s health provider.
- Abnormal discharge may also be a symptom of cervical cancer and should not be ignored.
- Pelvic pain or pain with sex may be a symptom of more advanced cancer.
- Blood in the urine or stool can occur with more advanced cancer.
- Swelling in the legs can occur as well.
If you experience these symptoms, you should see a women’s health provider for a pelvic exam and further evaluation. Your gynecologist, family doctor or nurse practitioner, local clinic, or other provider can perform this evaluation for you.
Any women’s health provider can evaluate you for cervical cancer and refer you appropriately to your nearest gynecologic oncologist. Gynecologic oncologists and radiation oncologists have special training in the treatment and management of cervical cancer. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. With appropriate and prompt treatment, cervical cancer can often be cured!
If you’ve been diagnosed with cervical cancer, contact the Gynecologic Oncology clinic at UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center by calling 502-561-7220.