Cervical Cancer: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 07/2017

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. Use the menu to see other pages.

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 best diagnostic and treatment options 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 Screening and Prevention section, 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 made either 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. Research continues to focus on improving surgical techniques and finding out which patients with cervical cancer can be treated successfully without losing their ability to have children. 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 angiogenesis inhibitors that block the action of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) have been shown to help women live longer if they have 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 angiogenesis inhibitors is to “starve” the tumor. Learn more about angiogenesis inhibitors and targeted treatments.

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

  • Palliative care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current cervical cancer treatments 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 in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers some guidance in how to cope with the physical, emotional, and social changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. You may use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.