Symptoms of cervical cancer 

The symptoms of cervical cancer aren't always obvious and it may not cause any symptoms at all until it has reached an advanced stage.

This is why it's very important for you to attend your cervical screening appointments.

Unusual bleeding

In most cases, vaginal bleeding is the first noticeable symptom of cervical cancer. It usually occurs after having sex.

Bleeding at any other time, other than your expected monthly period, is also considered unusual.

This includes bleeding after the menopause (when a woman's monthly periods stop).

If you have any type of unusual vaginal bleeding, visit your GP for advice.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms of cervical cancer may include:

Advanced cervical cancer

If the cancer spreads out of your cervix and into surrounding tissue and organs, it can trigger a range of other symptoms, including:

  • constipation
  • blood in your urine (haematuria)
  • loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence)
  • bone pain
  • swelling of one of your legs
  • severe pain in your side or back caused by swelling in your kidneys related to a condition called hydronephrosis
  • changes to your bowel and bladder habits
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • tiredness and lack of energy

When to seek medical advice

It is recommended that you contact your GP if you experience:

  • bleeding after having sex (postcoital bleeding)
  • bleeding outside of your normal periods
  • new bleeding after the menopause

Vaginal bleeding is very common and can have a range of causes, so it doesn't necessarily mean that you have cervical cancer.

However, unusual vaginal bleeding is a symptom that needs to be investigated by your GP.

Page last reviewed: 17/06/2013

Next review due: 17/06/2015