I have all the cervical cancer symptoms. What do I do?

Question: I have all the cervical cancer symptoms. What do I do?

Answer: First, don't panic. Cervical cancer symptoms are vague and non-specific; they are not exclusive to cervical cancer. This means that many other conditions share the same symptoms, many of which are much less serious than cervical cancer. If you have the symptoms of cervical cancer, it is not a guarantee that you have the disease.

However, it does mean that you should pay a visit to your doctor.

There are a few things you should know that may be reassuring. In most cases, cervical cancer is a slow-progressing disease. It can take years before cervical pre-cancer develops into cervical cancer. Of course, it can happen sooner in some women, but for most it takes several years. If you have been getting regular Pap smears, then any cervical abnormalities would have been detected. If you have not been getting regular Pap smears, it's not too late to start.

When you do visit your doctor, he or she will most likely want to do a pelvic exam as well as a Pap smear. Remember to be thorough about your personal and family history, as your doctor will want to know your health history. Pap smear results take about two weeks to return. Other tests or cultures may take much less time.

The bottom line is that you should not ignore your symptoms or wait for them to go away on their own.

Self-diagnosing through information found on the internet is not recommended, either. Most people find that even though they may have the symptoms of a disease, their doctor diagnoses them with something completely different. Use information you find on the internet as a guide, not a diagnostic tool.

It simply doesn't replace medical advice from from your doctor.

If you do not have health insurance and cannot afford a Pap smear, don't fear. There are several state and federal programs that help women get the health care they need. Learn how to get a free or low-cost Pap smear.

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