Cervical cancer is one of the major cancer types for which new immune-based cancer treatments are currently in development. This page features information on cervical cancer and immunotherapy clinical trials for cervical cancer patients, and highlights the Cancer Research Institute’s role in working to bring effective immune-based cancer treatments to people with cervical cancer.
By far, the most significant cause of cervical cancer, as well as other ano-genital cancers, is infection with a virus—the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is thought to cause nearly all cases of cervical cancer, 90% of anal cancers, 75% of vaginal cancers, 70% of vulvar cancers, and 60% of penile cancers. HPV is also a significant cause of head and neck cancers.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most frequently diagnosed cancer among women worldwide. In the U.S. in 2016, there will be 12,990 new cases of invasive cervical cancer and 4,120 deaths. Globally, there are approximately 530,000 cases of cervical cancer per year, and 265,000 deaths. If cervical cancer is caught while it is still localized, the 5-year survival rate is 91%. The 5-year survival rates for patients with regional and distant disease are 57% and 16%, respectively.
Cervical cancer is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not cause symptoms, but it can be found early with regular Pap tests (a procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and looked at under a microscope). Mortality rates have been decreasing in the U.S., thanks largely to widespread use of the Pap test as a screening tool. In addition to the Pap test, a DNA tests can also detect HPV strains that pose a cervical cancer risk. Symptoms tend not to occur until the cancer has become invasive. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the most common sign of cervical cancer.