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Spotting cancer early saves lives

Cervical Cancer

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer affects the lower part of the womb, also called the neck of the womb. Cervical cancer happens when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control. The main cause of cervical cancer is the human papilloma virus (HPV) – a common virus which in most cases is cleared by your immune system without any problems.

Each year there are 3,200 new cases of cervical cancer in the UK, that’s around nine women diagnosed every day.

Symptoms to look out for

Unusual bleeding

In most cases, bleeding from the vagina (not when you’re having your period) is the first noticeable symptom of cervical cancer. You may have bleeding:

  • between periods
  • during or after sex
  • at any time after your menopause.

There are many other conditions that can cause bleeding (outside of your period). You should see your GP straight away if you experience this.

Discomfort or pain during sex

For some women, discomfort or pain during sex can be a symptom of cervical cancer.

There are many other conditions that can cause this pain or discomfort. But you should see your GP straight away if you have this.

Other symptoms

Some women also have:

  • a vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant
  • pain in the area between the hip bones (pelvis).

When to see your GP

There are many other conditions that may cause these symptoms and most are much more common than cervical cancer. But you should go to your GP straight away if you have any of these symptoms.

You probably don't have cancer. But if you do, the sooner you are treated, the more likely you are to be cured and usually will need less treatment.

Why it’s important to spot cervical cancer early

Cervical cancer is very treatable if caught early, with around 95 per cent of women diagnosed at stage one surviving for at least five years after diagnosis. However, just under 1,000 women die from cervical cancer every year. This is why screening and being aware of symptoms is so important.

More information

NHS Choices
Jo’s cervical cancer Trust 

Cervical screening

Cervical screening

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Your questions answered