Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women around the globe. It begins when cells within the body start to grow in an abnormal way. Abnormal growth can happen in any kind of cells in the body, which then spread to other parts and become cancer. Similarly, cervical cancer develops in the lining of cervix cells.
Cervix consists of two parts which are covered with different kinds of cells. One part of the cervix is closed to the body of the uterus that is covered with glandular cells and is called “endocervix“. The second part starts next to the vagina which is covered with squamous cells and is called “ectocervix or exocervix“. Both of these cell linings are connected to each other at one place which is called the transformation zone. However, the location of the transformation zone may change when one gets older or give birth. The majority of cervical cancer starts through abnormal growth in cells of the transformation zone. The cell growth in the transformation zone is not suddenly changed into cervical cancer. Instead, normal cells of the cervix first develop the pre-cancerous state and then gradually transforms into malignant cervical cells.
A majority of women may experience pre-cancerous changes around menopause, there are only a few who develop cervical cancer. Usually, it takes multiple years for pre-cancer cervical changes to develop cervical cancer. In some cases, it may occur within a year because it depends upon different scenarios of individual cases. Younger women have fewer tendencies to develop cervical cancer. It is usually seen during the middle age of 35 years or above.
The symptoms of cervical cancer are not so obvious at the initial stages, and they may appear vigorously in advanced stages. But this can be prevented by gaining more awareness about its symptoms and warning signs. Cervical cancer can also become a life-threatening disease if it is not detected or goes untreated.
The warning signs and symptoms of cervical cancer which a woman can notice at the initial or pre-cancerous state are described in the following:
Irregular bleeding is the most common early symptom of cervical cancer that may occur between periods. Typically, it happens when cancer cells begin to grow over the tissue under the cervix. It is a warning sign, especially for women around menopause. Besides them, women who have difficulty in keeping track of menstrual cycle confuse their vaginal bleeding by period blood or normal spotting. Bleeding more than a normal period phase should not be considered normal. Vaginal bleeding becomes irregular when cancer spreads to the nearby tissue, so it’s significant to consult a doctor if you are experiencing;
- Bleeding during a menstrual cycle
- Longer menstrual cycle
- Bleeding after a pelvic exam
- Bleeding after menopause
- Bleeding after a sexual contact
- Bleeding results in anemia – causing dizziness and fatigue