Cervical cancer develops in the cells of the cervix, the organ that connects the vagina to the uterus. It’s usually caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), although having HPV doesn’t mean that a woman will develop cervical cancer – and most HPV infections go away without treatment.
UT Southwestern Medical Center Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center’s highly skilled gynecologic oncologists deliver comprehensive, compassionate care to women with cervical cancer. One specialist will oversee all your care and work with your referring obstetrician/gynecologist before returning you to regular care when treatment is complete.
Cervical cancer is screened for with a Pap test, a quick, painless procedure in which cervical cells are collected and checked with a microscope for abnormalities. Because a Pap test is a normal part of an annual women’s health exam, women who are conscientious about having annual exams greatly lower their risk of developing cervical cancer.
If cancer cells are detected, your obstetrician/gynecologist may collect a small tissue sample, order imaging studies, or examine you with an endoscope (a narrow, lighted tube) to learn more about the tumor. Or, he or she may refer you directly to a gynecologic oncologist at UT Southwestern.
Your Ob/Gyn also can screen for and diagnose an HPV infection – the leading cause of cervical cancer – by collecting and examining cervical cells. It’s important to note, however, that HPV testing is not a substitute for regular Pap testing.
Treatment for cervical cancer depends on its characteristics and stage, a woman’s overall health, and her preferences and goals. Options include:
- Pelvic/abdominal surgery – such as a hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, pelvic lymph node dissection, trachelectomey, or pelvic exenteration. Learn about surgery for gynecologic cancer.
- Radiation therapy – such as external beam radiation or internal radiation therapy, known as brachytherapy. Learn about radiation therapies for gynecologic cancer.
- Chemotherapy – including the most advanced combinations available. Learn about medical treatments for gynecologic cancer.
- Immunotherapy – using drugs that are in development to enhance anti-cancer immune cell responses
- Clinical Trials – UT Southwestern offers a wide array of clinical trials through NRG Oncology, Gynecologic Oncology Group.
Recently, UT Southwestern researchers led by gynecologic oncologist David Scott Miller, M.D., found that a cancer-fighting medical cocktail that combines the chemotherapy drug cisplatin with pemetrexed – an agent that stops cancer cells from dividing – showed promising results for advanced, persistent, or recurrent cervical cancer and was less toxic to patients than the current standard of care. Patients at UT Southwestern received this combination through a clinical trial, and the next phase of study should be available soon.
UT Southwestern also offers minimally invasive surgical options as well as fertility preserving surgery for women with early-stage cervical cancer.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines
UT Southwestern abides by the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which suggests that girls and boys receive HPV vaccinations between the ages of 11 and 12. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 also may receive the vaccine.
The Gardasil vaccine protects against HPV strains that cause most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts. Another vaccine, Cervarix, protects against strains that cause cervical cancer but not genital warts.
Patients and families should speak with their doctor to learn more.
Many patients qualify to participate in gynecologic cancer-related clinical trials conducted at UT Southwestern to gain access to new treatments and to further research of the disease.
Learn about cervical cancer clinical trials offered at UT Southwestern.
Meet Our Team
Our team of cervical cancer experts includes:
Learn more about our gynecologic cancer team.
Request an Appointment
To schedule an appointment with a cervical cancer specialist, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.