What`s new in cervical cancer research?
Research is being done to find new ways to prevent and treat cancer of the cervix.
Sentinel lymph node biopsy
During surgery for cervical cancer, lymph nodes in the pelvis may be removed to check for cancer spread. Instead of taking out many lymph nodes, a technique called sentinel lymph node biopsy can be used to target just the few lymph nodes most likely to contain cancer. A blue dye containing a radioactive tracer is injected into the cancer and allowed to drain into lymph nodes. Then, during surgery, the lymph nodes that have radiation and the blue dye can be spotted and removed. These are the lymph nodes most likely to contain cancer if it had spread. If these lymph nodes don’t contain cancer, the other lymph nodes don’t need to be removed. Taking out fewer lymph nodes may lower the risk of later problems.
There are vaccines to help prevent cervical cancer. These vaccines produce immunity to certain types of HPV so that women who are exposed to these viruses will not get infections. Vaccines are also being developed to prevent some of the other HPV types that cause cancer.
Vaccines are being studied for women who already have HPV infections. These vaccines could help their immune systems destroy the virus and cure the infection before it becomes cancer. Still other vaccines are meant to help women who already have advanced cervical cancer that has come back (recurred) or spread.
As scientists have learned more about the gene changes in cells that cause cancer, they have been able to develop newer drugs that are aimed right at these changes. These targeted drugs work in a different way from standard chemo drugs. They often have less severe side effects. These drugs may be used alone or along with chemo.
Bevacizumab (Avastin®) is a targeted therapy drug that helps keep new blood vessels from forming. It has been used alone and with chemotherapy to treat advanced cervical cancer. It is also being studied as a part of the treatment for earlier stage cervical cancer.
Hyperthermia is a treatment that raises the temperature around the tumor. Some research suggests that adding hyperthermia to radiation may help keep the cancer from coming back and help patients live longer.
Drug treatment of pre-cancers
Standard treatment of cervical pre-cancer includes cryotherapy, laser treatment, and conization. Recent studies to see if medicines can be used instead have had some promising results. More studies are needed before this can become a standard treatment.
Other clinical trials
Many clinical trials are testing new chemo drugs, new ways of giving radiation treatment, and new ways to combine treatments.
Last Medical Review: 04/24/2013
Last Revised: 01/31/2014