Subtle change spotted in your underwear could be little-known cancer symptom

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This is a symptom you shouldn
This is a symptom you shouldn't ignore (stock image) (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

There are more than 200 different types of cancer, and one in every two people will develop some form of them during their lifetime. With so many different conditions, it can be hard to know what symptoms to look out for, but spotting them early can be key in saving lives.

In the UK, the four most common types of cancer is breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer. For women, cervical cancer is the 14th most common, with around 3,200 people being diagnosed every year, according to Cancer Research UK.

Around 800 women die from the condition every year, and spotting it early is crucial in preventing this from happening. Although it doesn't usually present early symptoms, one sign that is important to look out for is changes to your vaginal discharge, according to the NHS.

This means changes to texture, colour and consistency of the discharge, as well as smell. The easiest way to look out for this is by keeping an eye for it in your underwear. Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust informs: "Vaginal discharge is a fluid (mucus) that cleans and protects the vagina. Most women have it, but it is good to be aware of any changes. Those changes may be looking different – for example, becoming much thicker or changing colour or smelling different – particularly if it smells unpleasant."

However, it's important to remember that changes to vaginal discharge can be due to a number of other reasons, so it's important to contact your GP if you're worried. the Cancer Trust explained: "Vagina discharge can change for lots of reasons that aren’t related to cervical cancer, such as an infection or changing hormones. It is important to tell your GP about any changes so they can put your mind at ease and make sure you get the care you need."

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According to the NHS, other cervical cancer signs to look out for are vaginal bleeding that's unusual for you, including during or after sex, between periods, after the menopause, or having heavier periods than usual, pain during sex, or pain in your lower back, between your hip bones or in your lower tummy.

The NHS added: "These symptoms are very common and can be caused by many different conditions. Having them does not definitely mean you have cervical cancer. But it's important to get them checked by a GP.

"This is because if they're caused by cancer, finding it early means treatment is more likely to be successful." One of the easiest ways to detect and prevent cervical cancer is by getting a smear test. These are carried out under the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. Every woman over the age of 25 who has a GP will be invited for a screening.

Ariane Sohrabi-Shiraz

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