Both the precancerous changes in the cells ( cervical dysplasia) and the earliest stages of cervical cancer have no symptoms. Symptoms may not appear until the cancer is in advanced stages. If you experience any symptoms, do not assume it is due to cancer. Many symptoms can be caused by other, less serious conditions. However, it is still important to discuss them with your doctor. Early detection and treatment improve outcomes for both cancer and other health conditions.
The most common symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal bleeding. It may include:
- Bleeding between your regular menstrual periods
- Menstrual bleeding that is heavier or lasts longer than usual
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Bleeding after douching
- Bleeding after a pelvic exam
Other symptoms may include:
- Unusual vaginal discharge, with or without blood
- Pain during sexual intercourse
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Later stages of cancer may cause:
- Pelvic pain or a sensation of a mass
- Abdominal or back pain caused by pressure on nearby nerves
- Obstructive urinary tract or rectal problems
- Decreased appetite and unintended weight loss
- Intense fatigue, abnormally low energy
- Swelling in the legs, which may be caused by an obstruction in the veins or lymphatic system
- Bone pain
Cervical cancer. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Cervical-Cancer. Updated December 2015. Accessed January 29, 2018.
Cervical cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114831/Cervical-cancer. Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed January 29, 2018.
Cervical cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/gynecologic-tumors/cervical-cancer. Updated March 2017. Accessed January 29, 2018.
General information about cervical cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/cervical/patient/cervical-treatment-pdq. Updated October 13, 2017. Accessed January 29, 2018.
Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html. Updated December 5, 2016. Accessed January 29, 2018.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP Last Updated: 11/16/2015