There are a few reasons cervical cancer is known as a silent killer among women. For one, the disease doesn't present any symptoms until it is at a later stage. This makes the illness tricky to catch early, and complicates treatment. “Cervical cancer is a slow onset cancer, so by the time someone is showing symptoms it’s usually more advanced,” explains gynaecologist Dr  Lauren Streicher.

Cervical cancer symptoms are also non-specific. “Non-specific symptoms can mean many other things, so just because you may exhibit these symptoms, it doesn’t automatically mean cervical cancer. Get them checked out, but chances are it’s nothing serious,” Dr Streicher explains. The good news is that a yearly pap smear can help with early detection. “Since the cancer is slow to develop, yearly pap smears and visits to your gynecologist can help ensure you don’t have any abnormalities in the cervix,” Dr Streicher says. But if you experience any of these symptoms in between your annual appointments, it doesn't hurt to get them checked out. (Just remember: Many of these signs of cervical cancer are also signs of common, benign issues, so no need to freak out quite yet.)

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