Cervical Cancer: Latest Research

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors are working to learn more about cervical cancer, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to women diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

Improved detection and screening methods. Because cervical cancer is highly treatable when detected early, researchers are developing better ways to detect precancer and cervical cancer. For example, fluorescent spectroscopy is the use of fluorescent light to detect changes in precancerous cervix cells.

HPV prevention. As discussed in the Prevention section, the HPV vaccines help prevent infection from the HPV strains that cause most cervical cancer. Gardasil is also approved by the FDA for boys and men ages 9 through 26 to prevent genital warts. Researchers are looking at the impact of the HPV vaccine on boys to reduce the risk of HPV transmission.

Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function. For women who already have cervical cancer, a therapeutic vaccine is being developed. These vaccines help "train" the immune system to recognize cervical cancer cells and destroy them. Learn more about immunotherapy.

Fertility-preserving surgery. There is continued interest in improving surgical techniques and finding out which patients with cervical cancer can be treated successfully without the loss of fertility. Learn more about fertility preservation.

Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Drugs called anti-angiogenesis inhibitors that block the action of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) have been shown to increase the cancer’s response to treatment and survival in women with cervical cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. VEGF promotes angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels. Because a tumor needs the nutrients delivered by blood vessels to grow and spread, the goal of anti-angiogensis therapies is to “starve” the tumor. Learn more about targeted treatments.

Combination therapy. Some clinical trials are exploring various combinations of immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current cervical cancer treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Looking for More About Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding cervical cancer, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

The next section addresses how to cope with the symptoms of the disease or the side effects of its treatment. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Coping with Side Effects, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.