Sentinel lymph node biopsy
During surgery for cervical cancer, lymph nodes in the pelvis may be removed to check for cancer spread. Instead of removing many lymph nodes, a technique called sentinel lymph node biopsy can be used to target just the few lymph nodes most likely to contain cancer. In this technique a blue dye containing a radioactive tracer is injected into the cancer and allowed to drain into lymph nodes. Then, during surgery, the lymph nodes that contain radiation and the blue dye can be identified and removed. These are the lymph nodes most likely to contain cancer if it had spread. If these lymph nodes don’t contain cancer, the other lymph nodes don’t need to be removed. Removing fewer lymph nodes may lower the risk of later problems.
A clinical trial is looking at a different way of doing a sentinel node biopsy procedure. It maps the lymph nodes using with robotic (laparoscopic) assisted near infrared imaging after injecting indocyanine green (ICG) dye into the cervix.
Vaccines have been developed to prevent infection with some of the HPV types associated with cervical cancer. Currently available vaccines are intended to produce immunity to HPV types 16 and 18, so that women who are exposed to these viruses will not develop infections. Vaccines are also being developed to prevent infection with some of the other HPV types that also cause cancer. Studies are being done to see how well these vaccines will reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Some experimental vaccines are also being studied for women with established HPV infections, to help their immune systems destroy the virus and cure the infection before a cancer develops. Still other vaccines are meant to help women who already have advanced cervical cancer that has recurred or metastasized. growing.
As researchers have learned more about the gene changes in cells that cause cancer, they have been able to develop newer drugs that specifically target these changes. These targeted drugs work differently from standard chemotherapy drugs. They often have different (and less severe) side effects. These drugs may be used alone or with more traditional chemotherapy.
Some research indicates that adding hyperthermia to radiation may help keep the cancer from coming back and help patients live longer. Hyperthermia is a treatment that raises the temperature in the area where the tumor is, most often by using radiofrequency antennae placed around the patient.
Drug treatment of pre-cancers
Standard treatment of cervical pre-cancer (such as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia; CIN) includes cryotherapy, laser treatment, and conization. Recent studies to see if medicines can be used instead have had some promising results.