HPV Cancer Symptoms in Women
The human papillomaviruses (HPV), the most commonly encountered sexually transmitted infections in the U.S., are a group of viruses linked by common characteristics. Anyone who is sexually active is in danger of contracting HPV, but fortunately, there are vaccines available to protect against HPV.
There are two distinct categories of HPV – low-risk HPV and high-risk HPV. The low-risk versions can result in genital warts while the high-risk variations may lead to infections that, without treatment, eventually produce cancer.
Be on guard for the most common HPV cancer symptoms for women:
1. Cervical Cancer
Untreated HPV infections caused most cases of cervical cancer, so this type of cancer diagnosis will be a clear indicator that your HPV played a role. Beyond cervical cancer, HPV can also result in several other forms of cancer including:
- Anal cancer.
- Some oral and throat cancers.
- Vulvar cancer.
- Vaginal cancer.
- Penile cancer.
With about 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in 2017, this type of cancer is perhaps the most severe consequence of HPV. In the U.S., more than 4,000 women will die of cervical cancer this year.
2. No Symptoms at All
People searching for information about the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer will be surprised for a big reason – cervical cancer actually has very few symptoms. The symptoms that do emerge may only be present well after the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.
Advanced stage cancers are more impactful and more challenging to treat than those detected early, so preventative screenings will be an essential part of your treatment plan. Routine visits with your gynecologist will help identify and address problems related to HPV and cervical cancer.
A Pap test is one way an OB/GYN visit could save your life. Pap tests do not diagnose cervical cancer, but they show changes at the cellular level that could develop into cancer without action.
Even though you might feel happy and healthy, there is no way to know for sure if you do not receive the preventative care your doctor provides. Don’t let cervical cancer go undetected.
3. Abnormal Bleeding
Although cervical cancer symptoms will often be limited, abnormal bleeding will be a great clue that something is amiss in your body. Abnormal bleeding may be a challenging symptom to recognize, especially for women with irregular menstrual cycles, but your attention to these changes will be crucial to maintaining your health and well-being.
People with cervical cancer may experience 5 types of abnormal bleeding. The categories are:
- Bleeding between regular menstrual periods.
- Bleeding after sex.
- Bleeding after douching.
- Bleeding after a pelvic exam performed by your doctor.
- Bleeding even after menopause.
With these types of symptoms, it can be challenging to accurately differentiate normal from abnormal. Do your best to notice and track your bleeding over a short amount of time. If something seems out of the ordinary, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist to discuss your concerns.
4. Pelvic Pain
Pelvic pain will provide another indication that cervical cancer is creating problems in your body. This pain will be unrelated to your menstrual cycle or any other situational experience like sex.
If you notice the unexpected presence of pain in this area, work to identify the location and possible triggers, track your symptoms over time, and let a medical professional know what you are experiencing. The pain could be mild and blunted or sharp and intense.
Since a number of conditions can cause irritation, it will be essential to rule out other issues.
5. Unusual Discharge
As cervical cancer caused by HPV advances, people might encounter an unusual vaginal discharge. One type of discharge will be associated with your period but will be much heavier than ordinary.
Another possible type of discharge unrelated to your period will have an unusual appearance. The discharge could be very watery or thick with a variety of colors.
This unfamiliar discharge could differ in smell as well as in consistency. Any discharge with a strong or foul odor could be a symptom of cervical cancer.
6. Increased Urination
How often have you used the bathroom today? When you’ve urinated, how was the frequency and how was the volume?
Women showing symptoms of cervical cancer will experience a sharp increase in occurrence or amount of their daily urination. Some will have both symptoms.
When monitoring your urination, look back months rather than days to notice the changes over an extended period of time. This information will give your medical professions the best information about where you were and where you are now.
7. Pain During Urination
Since you have been paying so much attention to when and how much you urinate, you can also be aware of any discomfort while you’re in the bathroom. Your trouble may present as a pain or burning sensation before, during, or immediately after urination.
Painful urination is yet another symptom of cervical cancer, so be sure to keep this symptom and others in your mind if the disease is a concern. Remember, prevention and early detection are the best ways to keep cervical cancer out of your life.