Cervical cancer is the 13th most common cancer in the UK, and according to Cancer Research UK’s latest figures, more than half of cases are diagnosed in females aged under 45.
With the majority of cases, vaginal bleeding is the first noticeable symptom, and it usually occurs after having sex.
Bleeding at any other time, other than your expected monthly period, should also be considered unusual.
Many signs of advanced cervical cancer are symptoms associated with other health conditions, and these shouldn’t be overlooked.
If the cancer spreads out of your cervix and into surrounding tissue and organs, it can trigger a range of other symptoms, according to the NHS.
Advanced symptoms of cervical cancer
These can include:
- Blood in your urine
- Loss of bladder control
- Bone pain
- Swelling of one of your legs
- Severe pain in your side or back caused by swelling in your kidneys, related to a condition called hydronephrosis
- Changes to your bladder and bowel habits
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Tiredness and a lack of energy
How to test for cervical cancer
Cervical screening is the best way to identify abnormal changes int he cells of the cervix at an early stage.
Previously known as a smear test, the test is part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme.
All women who are registered with a GP are invited for cervical screening.
Women aged between 25 to 49 will be invited to have one every three years and those aged between 50 to 64 every five years.
Other ways to prevent getting cervical cancer
Most cases of cervical cancer are linked to an infection with certain types of human papilloma virus (HPV), which can be spread through unprotected sex. So use a condom to reduce your risk of developing the infection.
Cervical cancer vaccination
Girls between the age of 12 and 13 are offered the HPV vaccine through the childhood immunisation programme. But you should still attend cervical screening tests.
People who smoke are less able to get rid of the HPV infection from the body, so stopping will reduce your risk.
These are the six deadliest cancers.