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We hear all about the symptoms of breast cancer on a regular basis, but there’s another type of cancer that is common in women: cervical cancer. According to Cancer.net, “Cervical cancer begins when healthy cells on the surface of the cervix change and grow out of control, forming a mass called a tumor.”
According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, the cancer isn’t easy to catch in the early stages, because there aren’t noticeable symptoms. In order to catch cervical cancer and start treatment, women are advised to get a pap smear once a year, starting at age 21.
However, if you feel like something’s off and you still have a while until your next yearly appointment, it’s important that you know the symptoms of cervical cancer and see a doctor right away. Here are some of the symptoms you should watch out for:
1. Abnormal vaginal bleeding and discharge
Any changes to your period should be discussed with your doctor. If your flow gets heavier than usual, you’re bleeding when you’re not supposed to be or if you have unusual discharge, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible to find the cause. It may not even be cervical cancer, but it’s important to find the cause of any period irregularity.
2. Pelvic pain
Pelvic pain is also a symptom of cervical cancer. According to Prevention, it can be anything from a sharp pain to a dull ache. If this pain is new, recurring and is unrelated to your cycle, you’ll want to talk to your doctor.
3. Pain during sexual intercourse
Pain during sex can be caused by many other things, but if you’re suddenly feeling pain when you never have before, it could be a sign of cervical cancer. Don’t panic and assume you have cancer though – bring up your concerns with your doctor to figure out what’s going on.
4. Leg pain or swelling
You might experience leg pain or swelling when your cancer is in more advanced stages. See your doctor immediately if this occurs. Even if it’s not cervical cancer, you can prevent or fix any other health problems that might be the culprit.
5. Bone fractures
Bone fractures are another sign of a more advanced cervical cancer. When the cancer spreads, it can affect your bones, causing them to fracture easily.
6. Unexplained weight loss
Unexplained weight loss can come from many different health problems, but keep cervical cancer in mind when you experience this symptom (especially if paired with others on this list). If you experience a drop in weight and you haven’t changed your diet or exercise routine, you should talk to a doctor.
7. Bleeding after menopause
If you’ve already been through menopause and you start experiencing vaginal bleeding, you should see a doctor to figure out what’s wrong. This is a common symptom of cervical cancer and should be looked at immediately.
8. You have a history of smoking
This isn’t a symptom of cervical cancer, but it’s definitely a risk factor. If you smoke or have a history of smoking, Prevention warns that your “tobacco habit could roughly double [your] risk for the disease.”
If you have any of these symptoms, don’t jump to conclusions and assume you have cervical cancer. Take a deep breath, call your doctor and stay calm. If you do end up having this type of cancer (or any other ailment), your doctor will walk you through the next steps you need to take.
More than 70 million displaced worldwide, says UNHCR
The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million globally last year – the highest number in the UN refugee agency’s almost 70 years.
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The almost 70.8 million people forcibly displaced is up 2.3 million on the previous year, according to the agency’s annual Global Trends report.
This is also double the level recorded 20 years ago.
The number averaged out to 37,000 new displacements every day.
“What we are seeing in these figures is further confirmation of a longer-term rising trend in the number of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“While language around refugees and migrants is often divisive, we are also witnessing an outpouring of generosity and solidarity, especially by communities who are themselves hosting large numbers of refugees.
The actual figure is likely to be higher as the Venezuela crisis is only partly reflected, the report states.
Around four million Venezuelans have fled their country, according to some figures from countries taking them in, making it one of the world’s biggest recent displacement crises.
The report identifies three main groups.
Firstly, there are refugees, or people forced to leave their country because of conflict, war or persecution. In 2018, the number of refugees reached 25.9 million worldwide, 500,000 more than in 2017. Included in this total are 5.5 million Palestine refugees.
The second group is 3.5 million asylum seekers. These are people outside their country of birth who are under international protection, but are yet to be granted refugee status.
Thirdly, there are internally displaced persons, or IDPs. These people are displaced within their country and amount to 41.3 million globally.
More than two thirds of all refugees worldwide came from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.
Syria had a considerably higher number than any other country with 6.7 million, followed by Afghanistan with 2.7 million.
Only 92,400 refugees were resettled in 2018, fewer than 7% of those awaiting resettlement.
The global population of forcibly displaced people has grown substantially from 43.3 million in 2009. Most of this increase was between 2012 and 2015 as a result of the Syrian conflict.
However, other conflicts have cropped up and continued across the globe, for example, in Iraq and Yemen in the Middle East, as well as parts of sub-Saharan Africa such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.
The massive flow of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh at the end of 2017 after they were driven out of Myanmar’s Rakhine state during military crackdowns was another major crisis.
At more than 1.5 million, Ethiopians were the largest newly displaced population in 2018, 98% of them internally, more than doubling the previous number.
These were mainly attributed to inter-communal violence throughout 2018, with communities living along disputed boundaries most affected.
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