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What is the Outlook for Cervical Cancer?
On the horizon are activities that spell good news in the fight against cervical cancer:
- Improving the Pap test
- Developments in human papillomavirus (HPV) research
- Clinical trials and other research
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.
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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.
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
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 – 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
- Radiation techniques
- 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