According to the World Health Organisation, a woman dies every two minutes from cervical cancer. It is characterised by the development of a tumour in the cervical cells. It is the second most widespread female cancer in the world. In the first stages of the disease, the symptoms do not manifest, although there are certain symptoms which indicate that the disease is at an advanced stage.
1) Pains in the legs
In the first stages of the disease, the cervix can become swollen and irritated, or reduce blood flow, leading to swelling and pain in the legs.
2) Burning while you pee
Burning during urination is a common symptom in women affected by cervical cancer. Blood can also appear in the urine. If the disease is detected in the urine, this indicates that the tumour has spread to neighboring tissues, particularly the bladder, and it in such cases, is vital that you consult an oncologist or health specialist immediately.
3) Bleeding after sex
Due to the growth of the tumour in the uterus, blood loss can be abundant, irregular and accompanied by pain in the pelvis, the spine and the legs. If the lower legs become swollen, it may be that the tumour has spread and reached the blood vessels.
If the tumour affects the rectum, the patient may feel anal pain, have difficulties passing stools or have blood in the stools.
If the tumour affects the upper urinary passages, it could cause an increase in the volume of the pelvis, which holds urine formed in the kidneys, or it could lead to kidney failure.
At more advanced stages, the tumour could cause vesico-vaginal fistulas (abnormal passageways that form between the bladder and the vagina) or recto-vaginal fistulas (abnormal passageways between the rectum and the vagina).
Health problems that accompany cervical cancer
More rarely, other illnesses or health problems can accompany cervical cancer:
- Bone metastasis: pain in the bones, and bones which fracture easily.
- Pulmonary metastasis: difficulties with breathing, coughing, shortness of breath, bloody discharge from the lungs.
- Weak immune system, coma.
- Neurological symptoms: headaches, vomiting, double vision, problems with balance.
- Fatigue, anaemia, loss of appetite.
- Paraneoplastic syndrome, hypercalcemia (elevated calcium levels in the blood).
Do you suspect something is wrong? In all cases, there’s nothing to lose by getting checked out! Don’t hesitate to talk to your GP or gynaecologist.