Cervical Cancer: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

A precancerous lesion of the cervix often does not cause any signs or symptoms. Symptoms or signs do typically appear with early-stage cervical cancer. With advanced cervical cancer, which is cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, the symptoms may be more severe depending on the tissues and organs to which the disease has spread.

Symptoms are changes that you can feel in your body. Signs are changes in something measured, like by taking your blood pressure or doing a lab test. Together, symptoms and signs can help describe a medical problem. The cause of a symptom or sign may also be a medical condition that is not cancer, which is why people need to seek medical care if they have a new symptom or sign that does not go away.

Any of the following could be symptoms or signs of cervical cancer:

  • Blood spots or light bleeding between or following periods

  • Menstrual bleeding that is longer and heavier than usual

  • Bleeding after intercourse, douching, or a pelvic examination

  • Increased vaginal discharge

  • Pain during sexual intercourse

  • Bleeding after menopause

  • Unexplained, persistent pelvic and/or back pain

Any of these symptoms should be reported to your doctor. If these symptoms appear, it is important to talk with your doctor about them even if they appear to be symptoms of other, less serious conditions. The earlier precancerous cells or cancer in the cervix is found and treated, the better the chance that the cancer can be prevented or cured.

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If cervical cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called "palliative care" or "supportive care." It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.