You know how it is:
The feeling of horrible soreness running down your legs.
To make matters worse: Someone, somewhere, told you that one of the cervical cancer symptoms is leg pain – but is it true?
What does leg pain feel like with cervical cancer?
Let’s get straight to it.
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Cervical Cancer Symptoms: Why Leg Pain and Swelling? Causes Explained.
Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV), with high risk HPV types 16 and 18 are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer cases and precancerous cervical lesions, says the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
Cervical dysplasia often starts with the alteration of the cells in cervix such that they become precancerous or premalignant due to the HPV infection. These premalignant cells may develop into cancerous cells, and eventually a tumor if the condition is not treated.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, leg pain is one of the late symptoms when cervical cancer develops to advanced stage or spread to other body parts including organs.
So why does cervical cancer cause leg pain and even swelling?
Recommended read: 11 Clinically Proven Natural Remedies for Cervical Dysplasia and HPV
As the name goes, cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, thus it grows and develops in the cervix.
When cervical cancer advances, it compresses the nearby nerves due to the increased growth of the tumor – which can also push against the blood vessels that are just around it, and the pain simply diffuses to the legs. When the cervix is swollen, proper blood flow is obstructed from the bottom of the legs, and blocking of the blood flow may cause pain and swelling in the leg.
Patient can also feel leg pain and swelling when cervical cancer spreads to the lymph nodes (the body system that filters body fluids) around the pelvis, says the UK Cancer Research. When this happens, cancerous cells may prevent proper draining of lymph fluid, which leads to swollen leg condition called Lymphoedema because of fluid build up.
Therefore, if you experience continuous leg pain and swelling at the same time, this may be a sign of cervical cancer that should not be neglected, and you should seek medical diagnosis to confirm the cause of your sore leg, and whether you have other symptoms associated with cervical cancer.
What Does Leg Pain Feel Like With Cervical Cancer?
Many women who have been diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer have shared their experiences with leg pain. The experience itself is not a good one, and it may come along with low back pain.
As the cervical cancer advances, the tumor continues to increase in size, which thus compresses the nerves. The affected nerves are usually around the pelvic region. The larger size of the tumor tends to crowd out these nerves such that that so much pressure is applied on them leading to the severe pain.
The pain caused by the compression of the nerves may go down to both legs, or either of your right / left leg. The pain, usually felt like a burning effect or aching in quality, can continue to increase and becoming severe as the cancer progresses on.
Nicola Caffrey shared her cervical cancer experience in video below, in which she had really sore leg and went through Lymphoedema treatment.
Recommended read: How To Build Strong Body Immunity To Fight HPV and Cervical Cancer
The major cervical cancer symptom of leg pain is that this pain is persistent. The persistence of leg pain and back pain can be severe enough that some of the patients claim that whenever the pain starts running down the leg, it lasts from morning to night. This pain may cause sleepless nights and most of them find themselves waking up in the middle of the night to deal with the pain.
Cervical cancer leg pain can affect the productivity of an individual. Most of the patients get painkillers prescribed to them by their doctors so that they can effectively deal with the pain.
Below are some actual forum feedback from cervical cancer / dysplasia patients, and how they described their leg pain experience as part of the symptoms:
“I am 69, and I was just diagnosed with cervical cancer. I was spotting and having pain around left hip area shooting down into my leg.” / by ASN16 @ MedicineNet
“My doctor has found precancerous cells in my cervix and uterus.. My symptoms are: continuous clotting, discharge (tissue like), bleeding and cramps worse with period, back pain, leg pain, weight gain, frequent urination, bladder being sore in the morning, bloating, legs feeling as if they’re going to burst…” / by vealey312 @ cancerforums
“Back in June I had my LEEP procedure.. I had CIN III… for about 2-3 months later I had constant lower back and leg pain along with abdominal pain and breakthrough bleeding…” / by sugarbabe @ cancercompass
“I was told 6 mnths ago i had cin 1, hpv, and visible lesions.. i bleed very heavy during intercorse, and have been bleeding almost everyday for about 9 months now… the last 3 or 4 weeks i’ve had pain in my hips and it’s going down my legs, it’s there constantly and nothing i do stops it, like lying down etc.. i even wake up with the pain and this last week i’m walking as if i was heavily pregnant because its getting that bad…” / by sammy1011 @ healthboards
Other Alarming Cervical Cancer Symptoms You Must Not Ignore
There are various other symptoms that are associated with cervical cancer, including:
• Excessive Vaginal Bleeding
Excessive vaginal bleeding is a common and early sign of cervical cancer. Bleeding can occur after sex and during menstrual period. This bleeding does not seem to stop and may appear as spotting.
• Painful Intercourse and Bleeding After Having Sex
Pain during sex is due to tumor grows in size throughout the tissues, and the affected individuals often experience a painful intercourse and can lead to bleeding.
• Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge can be normal but for cervical cancer, it is not normal and it usually has a bad odor. This vaginal discharge does not actually stop and may take place between the periods, after menopause and after the sex. Vaginal discharge often has a bad odor because of the dead cells and the lack of proper flow of oxygen. >> Learn more about cervical cancer discharge
• Unexplained Weight Loss
Cancer suppresses appetite and can cause weight loss. The body responds by increasing the production of cytokines which are small proteins. The cytokines burn more fat than the usual level and this is often followed with increased metabolism. Even if the affected individuals take a lot of food, the patient still experiences weight loss, this is perhaps the best explanation to the faster loss of weight in cervical cancer patients.
• Discomfort During Urination
Cervical cancer can cause discomfort during urination in terms of pain. This condition can be experienced when the tumor or the cervical cancer itself has advanced to the bladder. If you happen to find some blood stains in the urine, chances are very high that you have cervical cancer.
• Back Pain
Cervical cancer can also cause back pain. This is often due to the advanced cervical cancer where the kidney swells due to an accumulation of urine. The buildup of urine causes swelling that leads to back pain or pain in your side.
• Fatigue and Excessive Tiredness
Fatigue can be felt by any healthy individual, however, this symptom can be associated with cervical cancer. Regardless of whatever type of cancer people are suffering, individuals tend to experience fatigue even without having gone through a lot of tiresome work. The affected individuals tend to lack sleep and rest. Patients who have had experiences with fatigue caused by cervical cancer usually term the fatigue as paralyzing. It is actually continuous before, during and after medication.
These symptoms contain those indicate early signs of cervical cancer and others, especially like leg pain indicate the signs of advanced cervical cancer. If you happen to experience any of the above symptoms you need to look for medical help from your doctor.
Cervical cancer can be a potentially fatal illness which used to claim a lot of women’s life. The spread of cervical cancer can be controlled, only if you take early measures to treat the malignant cells before they develop into cervical cancer.
How HPV Cervical Cancer is Diagnosed for Early Detection and Treatment
Cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer can be identified through pap smear test (and Colposcopy). The pap smear test actually helps determine whether or not there are precancerous cells in your cervix that can potentially develop into cervical cancer. Patients who get pap smear tests normally also get HPV test which helps determine whether or not they have a HPV infection.
The development of precancerous cells into cervical cancer are mainly caused by high risk HPV strains 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59 and 68.
It is recommended that women should get pap smear tests every 3 years and HPV tests every 5 years. This helps keep you in the know about the health of your reproductive system and even prevent the development of cervical cancer by getting treatment as soon as the premalignant cells are detected.
If the cervical cancer is at an advanced stage, chemotherapy and radiation are often given.
As latest progress, study published by JAMA (American Medical Association) in July 2018 suggests HPV Test is more accurate than Pap Smear for cervical cancer screening.
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Cervical Cancer Leg Pain Symptom: The Verdict
Cervical cancer leg pain is often a very tough experience. This can be affirmed by women who have suffered from cervical cancer. The pain actually is caused when the tumor grows and becomes large in size such that it applies pressure on the nearby nerves in the pelvic.
This pressure causes blockage to the nearby blood vessels such that proper blood circulation is altered or blocked and blood that is below in the legs cannot come move properly, leading to pain that often is termed burning effect. Such leg pain does not seem to disappear, it is actually persistent and can last from morning to evening. The pain can be managed by taking powerful painkillers.
Cervical cancer is mainly caused by aforementioned high-risk HPV types which by fact co-exist with other factors such as weakened immunity. Keep a strong body immune system can help you a long way in fighting off HPV and keep the virus at bay for better cervical health.