Engineers, scientists, and physicians are working together to improve the way cervical cell samples are collected and analyzed during a Pap test. Other researchers are evaluating new ways to manage women with mildly abnormal Pap tests. The results of this research will help women and their physicians to decide what to do when a Pap test appears to be abnormal.
Nice To Know:
The number of new cervical cancer diagnoses and the number of cervical cancer deaths decline each year. Experts believe these statistics would decline even more rapidly if regular Pap tests were given to all women who are or have been sexually active or have reached the age of 18.
Developments In Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Research
Researchers are now developing simple and inexpensive laboratory tests that are capable of detecting cancer-causing strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). Such tests eventually will be available for widespread, routine use. In addition, researchers are in the process of creating vaccines that will:
Destroy HPV before the virus is firmly established
Produce an immune system response that kills or stops the growth of cancer cells that have spread beyond the cervix
Improvements are also being made in HPV screening tests, which will identify women with HPV-related and cancer-related changes in cervical cells.
Clinical Trials And Other Research
Clinical trials - studies that evaluate the effectiveness of new drugs and other treatments in a controlled, clinical setting - are now underway in select groups of patients. These cervical cancer trials should help to determine the value of the latest anti-cancer therapies, such as:
New chemotherapy medications
Combination therapies (for example, surgery plus radiation or chemotherapy)
In addition, cancer researchers are now studying the ways that oncogenes (genes that contribute to cancer) and tumor suppressor genes (genes that hinder tumor development) regulate cell growth and cause normal cervical cells to become malignant (cancerous). The goal is to learn how to stop abnormal cell growth by replacing damaged genes in cancer cells with normal genes.