Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is unique among common cancers: it has a single, known cause – the human papillomavirus (HPV) – and highly effective screening and prevention tools have the potential to virtually eliminate deaths from the disease. Research into HPV and cervical cancer detection has helped to reduce U.S. cervical cancer death rates by nearly 70 percent since the 1950s.

Despite these advances, nearly 12,000 American women are still diagnosed with cervical cancer annually, primarily because they do not receive routine screening and follow-up care. Moreover, with limited access to vaccines, screening, and treatment in low resource countries, annual mortality is 250,000 worldwide.

While screening and vaccination remain the first lines of defense, researchers are also working to improve treatments for women diagnosed with cervical cancer. 

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2014

New HPV vaccine protects against more cancer-causing virus types

New HPV vaccine protects against more cancer-causing virus types

The FDA approves a new human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil 9 following a large clinical trial. The vaccine is approved for use in girls and young women for the prevention of cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers caused by HPV, and in boys and young men for the prevention of HPV-related anal cancer and genital warts. Gardasil 9 vaccine protects against five more high-risk strains of HPV than previous vaccines, and researchers estimate it could prevent up to 90% of cervical cancers worldwide.

2013

First-ever regimen to extend survival for aggressive cervical cancer

First-ever regimen to extend survival for aggressive cervical cancer

A major clinical trial shows that adding the targeted drug bevacizumab (Avastin) to standard chemotherapy improves survival for patients with relapsed and advanced cervical cancers. These findings mark the first time any targeted agent has improved survival for cervical cancer – or any gynecologic cancer.  They offer a potential new treatment option for women with a disease for which chemotherapy alone is often ineffective.

2009

HPV vaccine benefits women over age 26

HPV vaccine benefits women over age 26

A large, randomized trial shows that the HPV vaccine Gardasil is more than 90 percent effective in preventing cervical cancer in women aged 24 to 45 who received all three vaccine doses, and who were not infected by the virus. While the vaccine is currently approved only for younger women, it is being considered by the FDA for use in women over age 26.

2008

Minimally invasive surgery shown to be effective for cervical cancer

Minimally invasive surgery shown to be effective for cervical cancer

In a small study, researchers find that two minimally invasive techniques – laparoscopic and robotic radical hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) with radical pelvic lymphadenectomy (removal of surrounding pelvic lymph nodes) – are as effective as traditional radical hysterectomy and lymphadenectomy in women with cervical cancer. The procedures, which are performed through small incisions, are associated with less blood loss and shorter hospital stays than traditional, open surgery. While both of the new techniques had already been put into limited practice, this study provided evidence to support their widespread use.

2006

Preventive cancer vaccine approved for cervical cancer

Preventive cancer vaccine approved for cervical cancer

The FDA approves Gardasil, a vaccine that prevents infection with the two high-risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) known to cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers. The vaccine is approved for girls and young women aged 9 to 26. The approval is based on data showing the vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing HPV16- and HPV18-related cervical pre-cancers, as well as genital warts, for at least 4.5 years following vaccination. Later the same year, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends routine HPV vaccination for girls aged 11 and 12; however, state requirements for HPV vaccinations vary. A second vaccine, Cervarix, was approved in 2009 to prevent infection against HPV16 and HPV18 in women aged 10 to 25. The cost of the three-dose regimen remains a persistent challenge to widespread HPV vaccination, with either version of the vaccine. Also in 2009, the Gardasil vaccine is approved for use in boys for the prevention of genital warts.

Gardasil is later approved to prevent additional HPV-related diseases in children and young adults aged 9 to 26, including vaginal, vulvar and anal cancers in females, and anal cancer and genital warts in males.

2000

Trial improves management of abnormal Pap test results

Trial improves management of abnormal Pap test results

Ongoing results from a large clinical trial – called the ASCUS-LSIL Triage Study (ALTS) – provide important guidance on managing the mild abnormalities that often show up on Pap tests. These findings help doctors more accurately determine which women need further procedures, such as colposcopy (office procedure using a device that enables a physician to closely examine the cervix for abnormalities) and biopsy to detect pre-cancer or cancer, and which women can be spared from these procedures.