how i knew i had cervical cancer?

How i knew i had cervical cancer 1

Women can develop cervical cancer from the age of 20 to 80, with the peak incidence occurring between the ages of 50 and 70(from American Cancer Society). In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of cervical cancer among women around 30 years old. Early-stage cancer may have no obvious symptoms but can present with increased vaginal discharge, bleeding during sexual intercourse, cervical erosion, and other signs.

Some common symptoms in early and middle-late stage patients are as follows:

how i knew i had cervical cancer 1
how i knew i had cervical cancer

(1)Irregular vaginal bleeding:

This is a major symptom in cervical cancer patients. When the tumor invades the cervical blood vessels, vaginal bleeding may occur, initially after sexual intercourse or with minimal bleeding after a cervical examination, known as contact bleeding. Postmenopausal bleeding should also be taken seriously. Young patients may experience prolonged menstrual periods, heavy menstrual flow, or intermenstrual vaginal bleeding, often mistaken for menstrual irregularities. Sometimes, significant vaginal bleeding may occur due to erosion of larger blood vessels or shedding of some cancerous tissue.

(2) Vaginal discharge:

Due to the breakdown of cancerous tissue or associated infections, symptoms may include pinkish-white discharge, increased watery discharge, bloody discharge, or yellowish discharge. In severe infections, there may be purulent discharge with a foul odor.


Pain is often a manifestation of advanced cervical cancer. It can occur in the lumbosacral region, iliac region, lower abdomen, and may radiate to the buttocks and thighs. Lower abdominal pain may be due to cervical cancer tumors, adjacent infections, or obstruction of the cervical canal by the tumor leading to poor drainage of the uterine cavity, resulting in fluid or pus accumulation and causing uterine contractions. Pain in the kidney area and lumbosacral region may occur when the tumor compresses the ureter and causes kidney pelvis dilation. Compression of the sacral nerves by the tumor can cause pain in the buttocks and sacrum, and may even radiate to the lower limbs.

(4) Other symptoms:

Bladder involvement can cause dysuria, hematuria, and increased frequency of urination. Rectal involvement may lead to difficulty in defecation, rectal bleeding, rectovaginal fistula, etc. Advanced stages may present with weight loss, fever. Secondary infections, anemia, and cachexia may occur in the late stage. Lung metastases may cause chest pain, cough, hemoptysis, and bone metastases may lead to persistent pain in the corresponding areas.

How i knew i had cervical cancer 2

Based on the medical history (symptoms), gynecological examination, cervical cytology examination, and histopathological examination of live tissues, most early and mid-late stage cancers can be diagnosed clearly. The cervical cancer screening program carried out both domestically and internationally mainly uses this method, which has identified many early-stage patients and achieved good results. For some early-stage cervical cancers (including in situ carcinoma) and precancerous lesions, the final diagnosis relies on histopathology. In the diagnosis of cervical cancer, it includes a full-body examination, pelvic examination, and commonly used diagnostic methods such as the following:

how i knew i had cervical cancer2
how i knew i had cervical cancer2

(1) Vaginal Exfoliative Cytology Examination:

Vaginal exfoliative cytology examination is currently a widely used method for early diagnosis. When conducting gynecological examinations on married women or during population-based cancer screenings, the Papanicolaou (Pap) smear test is routinely performed. The accuracy of the initial screening diagnosis using this method ranges from 84% to 93%.

To overcome false negatives in cytology, it is recommended to repeat the smears multiple times using the dual-slide method. Quality control should be strengthened during the slide preparation and diagnosis process. Using a special “mini spatula” to scrape cells from the surface of the cervix and cervical canal for smearing, diagnosed by cytologists, this method is simple, easy, and has a relatively high diagnostic accuracy.

(2) Iodine Test:

A 2% iodine solution is applied to the cervix and vaginal mucosa, and the staining pattern is observed. In areas where the iodine does not stain, multiple live tissue samples are taken for pathological examination and diagnosis. This test is suitable for cases where the cell smears are abnormal or clinically suspicious, and when vaginal colposcopy equipment is not available.

(3) Vaginal Colposcopy Examination:

Vaginal colposcopy can magnify up to 30 to 40 times, allowing for the observation of subtle morphological changes in the cervical epithelium and blood vessels to determine the presence of lesions. It helps identify suspicious areas and increases the detection rate of live tissue examinations. Research conducted at a hospital in Beijing suggests that the correct diagnostic rate of biopsies taken under colposcopy is around 95%.

(4) Endocervical Curettage:

Scraping the endocervical mucosa for pathological examination helps clarify the presence of lesions within the endocervical canal. This procedure is recommended when cancer cells are found in cytology examinations or when suspicious areas are identified but cannot be located during colposcopy. The misdiagnosis rate for multiple samples taken from iodine-unstained areas combined with endocervical curettage is 3%.

(5) Cone Biopsy of the Cervix:

This procedure is suitable for cases where the results of cervical cell smears are inconsistent with live tissue examinations under colposcopy or pathological examinations following endocervical curettage. It helps determine the presence of early infiltration of in situ carcinoma and the extent of the lesion. Cone biopsy is also used as a treatment method for patients with partial cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (including atypical hyperplasia and in situ carcinoma). The missed diagnosis rate for cervical conization is 1.8%.

Depending on the specific circumstances of each case, additional examinations such as cystoscopy, proctoscopy, intravenous pyelogram, chest X-ray, pelvic radiography, etc., may be performed. When necessary, CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging can help determine the extent of the lesion and aid in selecting appropriate treatment methods.

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