Cervical Cancer: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

In its early stages, cervical cancer typically does not cause symptoms. It may be detected on Pap screening and subsequent testing even before symptoms have developed. When symptoms do occur, one of the most common symptoms is abnormal vaginal bleeding. This can include bleeding between menstrual periods, bleeding after sexual intercourse or a pelvic exam, or bleeding after douching. Unusual or unexplained changes in the menstrual cycle, such as abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding and bleeding after menopause, are also possible signs of cervical cancer.

Other symptoms and signs that may accompany the condition include vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, and pain during sexual intercourse. When cervical cancer has spread throughout the body (metastasized), it may cause general symptoms and signs, like fatigue and weight loss.

Causes of cervical cancer

Infection with certain types of human papillomaviruses (HPV) has been found to cause cervical cancer, although it is poorly understood why only some women with this infection develop the disease, since HPV infection is very common. Risk factors that increase the risk of developing cervical cancer include having many sexual partners, smoking, using birth control pills, and engaging in early sexual contact (having sex at an early age).

Other cervical cancer symptoms and signs

United States. National Cancer Institute. "Cervical Cancer." <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/cervical>.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019
United States. National Cancer Institute. "Cervical Cancer." <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/cervical>.