Cervical cancer may cause a person to experience increased levels of discharge, strong-smelling or watery discharge, or discharge containing blood.
However, atypical vaginal discharge can commonly occur due to infections of the reproductive tract, such as vaginosis or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
In some cases, atypical vaginal discharge can be a symptom of cervical cancer. Treatments for cervical cancer can also affect discharge.
This article looks at how and why cervical cancer may affect discharge, as well as symptoms to look out for.
As cervical cancer grows, it can affect surrounding tissues, which may cause symptoms such as atypical discharge. People may notice blood in their discharge in between periods or after menopause.
Other possible symptoms
As well as spotting or bleeding between periods or after menopause, other symptoms of cervical cancer may include:
- changes in periods, such as longer or heavier periods than usual
- bleeding after douching or vaginal sex
- painful sex
- pelvic pain
As cervical cancer progresses, it
Learn more about cervical cancer.
According to a
This may occur with cervical cancer due to the death of cancer cells from a lack of oxygen. This can increase the risk of bacterial growth and infection.
With cervical cancer, a fistula may form between the vagina and the rectum or bladder. A vaginal fistula can cause a strong-smelling discharge.
According to a
Certain treatments for cervical cancer, such as
Radiation to the pelvic area
A vaginal infection can cause discharge to have a different smell, texture, or color than usual.
If treatments such as radiation therapy are causing changes in discharge, a doctor may recommend certain treatment options.
For severe irritation, and if sores develop in the vagina, people may need to use an estrogen cream.
People who are experiencing any side effects from cervical cancer treatment can talk with their healthcare team. Often, a doctor
This section answers some common questions about cervical cancer and discharge.
What does HPV discharge look like?
Certain high risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer.
The early stages of cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms. However, people may experience increased levels of discharge that may be:
Learn more about the different colors of vaginal discharge.
Does cervical cancer discharge smell like fish?
This symptom may be a sign of a vaginal infection. Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina and can cause an increase in discharge that doctors may describe as having a “fishy” odor.
To discover more evidence-based information and resources for cancer, visit our dedicated hub.
Cervical cancer can also cause changes in the amount, consistency, or smell of discharge. A person may also experience blood in their discharge between periods or after menopause.
People who are concerned about changes their in discharge can speak with a healthcare professional to find out the underlying cause.
If cancer treatments cause changes in discharge or any uncomfortable side effects, a person can talk with their healthcare team about options for treating or managing these effects.