Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer

A sign is something that can be observed and recognized by a doctor or healthcare professional (for example, a rash). A symptom is something that only the person experiencing it can feel and know (for example, pain or tiredness).


The signs and symptoms of cervical cancer can also be caused by other health conditions. It is important to have any unusual symptoms checked by a doctor.


Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer are:

  • abnormal vaginal bleeding
    • spotting or blood-stained discharge from the vagina between periods
    • unusually long or heavy periods
    • bleeding after sexual intercourse
    • bleeding after douching
    • bleeding or bloody discharge from the vagina after menopause
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • clear, watery discharge from the vagina
  • increased amount of discharge from the vagina
  • foul-smelling discharge from the vagina

Late signs and symptoms

Late signs and symptoms occur as the cancer grows larger or spreads to other parts of the body, including other organs.

  • pain in the pelvic area or lower back that may go down the leg(s)
  • swelling (edema) of the legs
  • change in bladder habits
    • loss of bladder control (incontinence)
    • blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • change in bowel habits
    • blood in the stool
    • constipation
  • anemia, which causes tiredness, lack of energy and shortness of breath
  • weight loss
  • shortness of breath


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We can give information about cancer care and support services in Canada only. To find a cancer organization in your country, visit Union for International Cancer Control or International Cancer Information Service Group.