Cervical Cancer: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done to learn more about cervical 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 people 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.

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) prevention. As discussed in the Screening section, HPV vaccines help prevent infection from the HPV strains that cause most cervical cancers. Gardasil is also approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (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. As explained in Types of Treatment, immunotherapy is a systemic therapy using medication 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 people who already have cervical cancer, a therapeutic vaccine is being developed. This type of vaccine helps "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 can be treated successfully without losing their ability to become pregnant and have children. Learn more about fertility preservation.

  • Targeted therapy. As explained in Types of Treatment, targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Targeted drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors that block the action of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) have been shown to help people 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 and supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current cervical cancer treatments to improve comfort and quality of life for patients.

Looking for More About Latest Research?

If you would like more information about the latest areas of research in 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 on how to cope with the physical, emotional, social, and financial changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.