Although cervical cancer is a major cause of illness and death in developing countries, the number of women with invasive forms of the disease has fallen dramatically in the United States and other industrialized nations since the introduction of screening techniques such as the Pap smear and liquid-based cytology.
At Memorial Sloan-Kettering, our recently revised screening guidelines for cervical cancer reflect the latest thinking on who should get tested and how frequently testing should occur. Our guidelines also emphasize the value of getting vaccinated against the strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) associated with cervical cancer.
In addition, we have updated our informational guide to cervical cancer, which describes our comprehensive and multidisciplinary team approach to diagnosing and treating the disease. We provide the women who come to us with compassionate and leading-edge care, as well as comprehensive follow-up care offered as part of our Survivorship Initiative.
More than one in ten women who come to Memorial Sloan-Kettering with early-stage cervical cancer do not need more than a basic surgical procedure such as loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) or cone biopsy (conization) to fully remove cancerous changes.
For women whose cancer is more advanced, our innovative approach to measuring the potential spread of cancer to lymph nodes in the pelvis – sentinel lymph node mapping – has enabled us to spare many the long-term discomforts and complications that can happen with overtreatment.
Of the approximately 200 women with cervical cancer who typically come to see us every year, about 50 are found to have invasive cervical cancer, meaning that the cancer that has spread to tissue beyond the surface of the cervix or to other parts of the body.
For these women as well as those with recurrent cervical cancer, the surgical options we provide lead to outcomes that are among the best in the world. We have made refinements in the use of minimally invasive robotic technologies during operations, for example, that have benefits such as decreased pain after surgery, better cosmetic results, and faster recovery.
Our researchers are also working to develop better chemotherapy agents to treat women with advanced cervical cancers, including novel investigational drugs available only through our clinical trials.
For young women who are otherwise healthy and concerned about preserving their ability to become pregnant and have children, we can often provide the option of undergoing a fertility-preserving radical trachelectomy.
This innovative technique was pioneered by a team of Memorial Sloan-Kettering surgeons led one of our gynecologic surgeons, Nadeem Abu-Rustum. Watch videos in which Dr. Abu-Rustum and other world-class experts in gynecologic care describe their work in the guide’s multimedia section.