Dr. McDonald talks about some of the common symptoms of cervical cancer, such as abnormal bleeding. Watch the video to learn more.
Matt McDonald, MD: A common question I am asked is what are the warning signs and symptoms of cervical cancer? And when thinking of cervical cancer, it’s important to categorize that as precancer or precursor of a cancer called cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. Cervical cancer in and of itself really the most common warning sign or symptom from that really is abnormal bleeding. Most importantly or what you’ll read in a textbook is something called postcoital bleeding which is unforeseen or abnormal vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse and that usually happens because the cervical cancerous cells are irritated during intercourse and they are friable and bleed easily when they are touched. So if a woman complains of abnormal bleeding after intercourse, they certainly should seek attention by their physician. Other warning signs that we see with cervical cancer are more indolent and insidious and what I mean by that is they really don’t have any symptoms related to the GYN organs. At lot of times when we see patients come in with advanced cervical cancer, which is when we really don’t want to catch patients, we have symptoms that really have to do with the kidneys not working or otherwise known as kidney failure that happens sometimes when the cervical cancer becomes so large that it will block the flow of urine from the kidney to the bladder and result in kidney failure and those patients come in with all kinds of symptoms of fatigue, nausea, etc., that really are symptoms related to the kidney failure not necessarily to the cervix. So our goal really is to catch women and find cervical cancer in its early stages. In the early stage symptoms usually have to do with this entity of postcoital bleeding. Alarmingly, though a lot of patients when they develop early cervical cancer like stage 1 and stage 2 have no symptoms not even the abnormal bleeding and so what we really try to do is catch cervical cancer before it exist and that is where we go from a screening standpoint in hopes of preventing cervical cancer and the most effective means of preventing cervical cancer is the Pap smear, and that requires regular visits to the gynecologist or your family practitioner, etc. That’s the most effective means of preventing cervical cancer. Without Pap smears, we have no idea where our patent is in the continuum of cervical dysplasia and that’s why in certain developing countries where Pap smear surveillance is not a regular part of a woman’s life, cervical cancers still the leading cause of cancer related deaths in some women. In countries such as the United States, where cervical cancer screening with Pap smears is a regular event, we have done an enormous job at preventing cervical cancers. So that is the far the best most effective screening mechanisms, regular exams, and Pap smears.
Learn more about Dr. McDonald: http://presbyteriangyncancer.org/?id=5013&sid=123