Skip to content

What are the symptoms?

In its early stages, cervical cancer usually has no symptoms. The only way to know if there are abnormal cells in the cervix that may develop into cervical cancer is to have a cervical screening test.

If symptoms occur, they usually include:

  • vaginal bleeding between periods, after menopause, or during or after sexual intercourse;
  • pelvic pain;
  • pain during sexual intercourse;
  • an unusual vaginal discharge; and/or
  • heavier periods or periods that last longer than usual.

Although these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions or medicines, it is very important to rule out cervical cancer. See your general practitioner (GP) if you are worried or the symptoms are ongoing. This is important for anyone with a cervix, whether straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.

Which health professionals will I see?

Your GP will arrange the first tests to assess your symptoms. If these tests do not rule out cancer, you will usually be referred to a specialist, such as a gynaecologist or gynaecological oncologist. The specialist will arrange further tests.

If cervical cancer is diagnosed, the specialist will consider treatment options. Often these will be discussed with other health professionals at what is known as a multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting. During and after treatment, you will see a range of health professionals who specialise in different aspects of your care.

gynaecologistspecialises in diseases of the female reproductive system; may diagnose cervical cancer and then refer you to a gynaecological oncologist
gynaecological oncologistdiagnoses and performs surgery for cancers of the female reproductive system (gynaecological cancers), such as cervical cancer
radiation oncologisttreats cancer by prescribing and overseeing a course of radiation therapy
medical oncologisttreats cancer with drug therapies such as targeted therapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy
radiologistanalyses x-rays and scans; an interventional radiologist may also perform a biopsy under ultrasound or CT, and deliver some treatments
cancer care coordinatorcoordinates your care, liaises with MDT members, and supports you and your family throughout treatment; may be a clinical nurse consultant (CNC) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
nurseadministers drugs and provides care, information and support throughout treatment
dietitianrecommends an eating plan to follow during treatment and recovery
social worker, psychologistlink you to support services; help with emotional and practical problems associated with cancer and treatment
women’s health physiotherapisttreats physical problems associated with treatment for gynaecological cancers, such as bladder and bowel issues, sexual issues and pelvic pain

This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed in September 2019 by the following expert content reviewers: A/Prof Penny Blomfield, Gynaecological Oncologist, Hobart Women’s Specialists, and Chair, Australian Society of Gynaecological Oncologists, TAS; Karina Campbell, Consumer; Carmen Heathcote, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland; Dr Pearly Khaw, Consultant Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Jim Nicklin, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Associate Professor Gynaecologic Oncology, The University of Queensland; Prof Martin K Oehler, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Dr Megan Smith, Program Manager – Cervix, Cancer Council NSW; Pauline Tanner, Cancer Nurse Coordinator – Gynaecology, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, WA; Tamara Wraith, Senior Clinician, Physiotherapy Department, The Royal Women’s Hospital, VIC.