Cervical Cancer

This information is useful for adults
fatality rate for cervical cancer has plummeted
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Leader in the development of effective diagnostic techniques and treatments for cervical cancer.
  • In 1999, Yale became the first medical center in Connecticut to offer a DNA test for HPV.
  • Our physicians are highly trained in treating cancers in a woman's reproductive organs.

The fatality rate for cervical cancer has plummeted. Once the deadliest cancer for women, it is now 14th on the list. This incredible success story is rooted in early screening and prevention. 

From the Pap smear to the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine, Yale Medicine has been at the forefront of developing widely used and incredibly effective diagnostic techniques and treatments for cervical cancer.

The majority of cervical cancer cases are tied to HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that will affect more than 80 percent of women over the course of their lifetime. "But just because you have it does not mean you will develop cervical cancer," says Yale Medicine's Elena Ratner, MD, co-chief of  Gynecologic Oncology and an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine. "So the most important thing is reducing the rate of it is with the new HPV vaccines."

Cervical cancer occurs when cells inside the cervix grow abnormally or a tumor starts to form. The growth of abnormal cells in the cervix is almost always related to an HPV infection.

While most of these women will not go on to develop cervical cancer, a small percentage will. Getting vaccinated against HPV is the most effective way to protect young women from ever developing the disease.

New vaccines have proven to be 100 percent effective in preventing infections from HPV strains 16 and 18, the two types of HPV responsible for the majority of cervical cancer cases. For women who have already developed the early stages of cervical cancer, regular Pap smears are recommended. The disease progresses slowly and sometimes regresses on its own.

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.