Cervical CancerRSS

Last Updated: February 22, 2012

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What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancer develops in the tissues of the cervix. The Cancer Genome Atlas is studying the two main types of cervical cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the thin, flat, squamous cells that line the vagina. Adenocarcinoma arises in the glandular cells in the vagina that secrete mucus. Risk factors for cervical cancer include smoking and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. In the future, the HPV vaccine will lower the infection rate. However, until more of the population is vaccinated, people will continue to be infected and cervical cancer will remain a public health issue. Even though most cervical cancer is discovered through annual pap smears, undiagnosed cancer can be deadly. For 2011 it was predicted that 4,290 women would die from it and 12,710 women would be diagnosed1. View additional information on cervical cancer.

The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) researchers have:

  • Identified novel mutated genes in cervical cancer including MED1, ERBB3, CASP8, HLA-A, and TGFBR2, adding to our knowledge of the genetic changes that contribute to cervical cancer
  • Found genomic changes in cervical cancer that may be treated with available drugs
    • Altered genes involved in regulating the immune system including CD274 and PDCD1LG2 may be targeted by immunotherapeutic agents
    • Tumors with gene fusions of BCAR4, in which DNA including the gene BCAR4 moved from its normal position in the genome to a new position, may be sensitive to a breast cancer drug called lapatinib
    • Nearly three-quarters of cervical cancers had genomic alterations in either one or both of PI3K/MAPK and TGF-beta signaling pathways, which provide multiple targets for therapy
  • Characterized several cancers that did not demonstrate human papillomavirus (HPV) involvement, confirming that a small percentage of cervical cancers arise in other ways

See more about TCGA's study of cervical cancer.

Where can I find more information about the TCGA Research Network’s studies?

View a list of TCGA scientific publications.

Where can I find clinical trials to treat cervical cancer that are supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)?

View a list of NCI-supported cervical cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients.

Selected References

1 American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2011. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2011.