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The cancer symptom you can SMELL – and 10 other signs you must never ignore

UNDERSTANDING your body and getting to know what’s normal for you is key.

This can help you spot any changes that you might experience which could be a warning sign of illness.

Cervical cancer is the 14th most common cancer in women in the UK – with around 3,200 people being diagnosed each year

For most women, experiencing discharge is normal – and it’s something everyone has to deal with.

But if this changes when it comes to smell or consistency, then this could be a warning sign of cancer, the NHS says.

Cervical cancer is the 14th most common cancer in women in the UK – with around 3,200 people being diagnosed each year.

There are no obvious symptoms during the early stages of the illness – that’s why it’s best to keep up with your smears when reminded by your GP.

However, the NHS says that one of the key signs is ‘changes to your vaginal discharge’.

This refers to the texture, colour and consistency of the discharge – but also the smell.

Experts at Cancer Research UK state: “Some women also have: a vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant and pain in the area between the hip bones.”

That being said, a change in discharge isn’t always down to cancer, and you should see your GP or visit a sexual health clinic if you are concerned.



Discharge isn’t the only indicator and other key signs include:

  1. Pain and discomfort during sex
  2. Vaginal bleeding after sex, between periods or after menopause
  3. Pain in your lower back or pelvis
  4. Severe pain in your side or back caused by your kidneys
  5. Constipation
  6. Peeing or pooing more than usual
  7. Losing control of your bladder or bowels
  8. Blood in your pee
  9. Swelling in one or both legs
  10. Severe vaginal bleeding

One of the easiest ways to detect and prevent cervical cancer, is to get your smear test.

These are a preventative swab used to detect abnormal cells on the cervix – the entrance to the womb from the vagina.

Detecting these cells and then removing them can prevent cervical cancer. It’s not a test for cervical cancer itself.

Most women’s results show everything is totally normal – the test picks up abnormalities in around one in 20 women.

Cervical screening is carried out under the NHS Cervical Screening Programme, which was introduced in the 1980s.

Every woman over the age of 25 who has a GP is invited for screening – and it doesn’t matter if you’re sexually active or not.

It is possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer, but it’s extremely rare in women under 25.

Earlier this year medics warned that millions of women across the UK could be at risk of the illness – after 37 per cent of those aged 25-34 said restrictions had impacted or delayed them being able to book their smear test.

In those aged 35-44, 43 per cent said the pandemic had meant they also had not attended a screening appointment.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Medical Director for Primary Care at NHS England, said: “There is no doubt about it – cervical screening saves lives.

“By screening for risk signs at an early stage, it means that any abnormal cells can be treated quickly before they potentially develop into cancer.

“We know that it can feel embarrassing or feel like something that you can easily put off, but accepting your invite and getting checked could save your life.

“And please do speak to your GP practice about any concerns you might have – we are here to help you.”

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