Cervical Cancer

Expert Care and Treatment for Gynecologic Cancers

The Gynecologic Oncology Program is a leader in research and care for patients with gynecologic cancers.

Your care team will collaborate to develop a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan that offers the most advanced therapies and an array of supportive resources. 

Gynecologic Oncology Program

What Is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a fetus grows). It leads from the uterus to the vagina (birth canal) and holds the fetus in place during pregnancy. Cervical cancer usually develops slowly over time and is pre-dated by pre-cancerous changes, which is why Pap tests have been (and continue to be) so successful in preventing cervical cancer from developing or detecting it at an early stage.

Before cancer appears in the cervix, the cells of the cervix go through changes known as dysplasia, in which cells that are not normal begin to appear in the cervical tissue. Later, cancer cells start to grow and spread more deeply into the cervix and surrounding areas, such as lymph nodes.

Risk Factors 

Risk factors for cervical cancer can include: 

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection with certain high risk subtypes 
  • Smoking cigarettes 
  • Multiple sexual partners 
  • Weakened immune system, such as for those with AIDS 
The organs in the reproductive system of people assigned female at birth include the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and vagina. The uterus has a muscular outer layer called the myometrium and an inner lining called the endometrium. 

Signs and Symptoms 

Symptoms of cervical cancer may not appear until the disease is more advanced. Regular screenings are important to ensure that cervical changes are caught early, and precancerous cells are treated before they cause symptoms or develop into cancer. The signs and symptoms for cervical cancer can include: 

  • Vaginal bleeding 
  • Unusual vaginal discharge 
  • Pelvic pain or back pain 
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse 

Diagnostic Tests 

  • Pelvic exam 
  • Pap test 
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) test 
  • Colposcopy 
  • Biopsy 
  • Endocervical curettage 
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • PET scan

Learn details about how we diagnose cervical cancer


Treatment options depend on: 

  • The stage of the cancer 
  • The size of the tumor 
  • The patient's desire to have children 
  • The patient's age 
  • The cancer histology
  • The tumor's PD-L1 status

Treatment during pregnancy depends on the stage of the cancer and the stage of the pregnancy. For cervical cancer that is found early, or for cancer found during the last trimester of pregnancy, treatment may be delayed until after the baby is born. 

Learn details about how we treat cervical cancer


The chance of recovery (prognosis) depends on: 

  • A patient's age and general health 
  • The stage of the cancer (whether it affects part of the cervix, involves the whole cervix, or has spread to the lymph nodes or other places in the body) 
  • The type of cervical cancer 
  • The size of the tumor 

Gynecologic Oncology Virtual Symposium Series

The Gynecologic Oncology Virtual Symposium Series is an ongoing series of online educational programs for patients and their loved ones. New sessions will be announced soon. 

View Symposium Recordings

What Is Cervical Cancer?

As many as 10,000-11,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Ursula A. Matulonis, MD, medical director of Gynecologic Oncology at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers at Dana-Farber, highlights symptoms and treatment options.

Why Choose Us

Our internationally recognized team of experts in cervical cancer and cervical dysplasia is dedicated to providing compassionate care and personalized diagnosis, treatment, and support for all of our cervical cancer patients and their loved ones.

We provide comprehensive services to patients with these cancers, including:  

  • A team of leading experts in cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment who are setting treatment guidelines for other physicians around the world 
  • Our Pap Smear Evaluation Center evaluates more than 1,000 new patients annually, including those with complicated cases that have not responded to initial treatment
  • Clinical trials of emerging and novel treatments for cervical cancer, some of which have been developed here and may not be available elsewhere 
  • New radiation treatments, including image-guided brachytherapy, that preserve healthy tissue, prevent unnecessary hysterectomies, and significantly reduce side effects 
  • The benefits of groundbreaking research: Our physician-scientists are leading national and international studies of drugs that target the genetic and molecular drivers of cervical cancers, bringing new and more effective treatments to patients more quickly 
  • Specialized care for people with sexual health or fertility concerns, and access to a wide array of support services and survivorship care 
  • Multidisciplinary care delivered by specialists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital