Cervical Cancer Research

Driven by HPV, the disease is usually slow-growing and asymptomatic in its earliest stages. Screening with regular Pap or HPV tests can detect it early. HPV is an extremely common virus that is transmitted through direct sexual contact. It drives most cervical cancers, as well as many anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile and a growing percentage of head and neck cancers.  

Thanks to screening advances, cervical cancer mortality rates in the U.S. have dropped significantly. HPV infections — and cervical cancers — are also in decline in the U.S., due to use of the HPV vaccine. Yet cervical cancer remains one of the leading causes of cancer death among women in low-resource countries.

Researchers and Patient Treatments

Dr. Denise Galloway

Our Cervical Cancer Researchers

Our interdisciplinary scientists and clinicians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cervical cancer as well as other cancers and diseases.

Meet Our Faculty
group of multi ethnic women

Patient Treatment & Care

At Fred Hutch, our interdisciplinary teams work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our aim is to provide patients access to advanced treatment options while getting the best cancer care.

Request An Appointment

Selected Cervical Cancer Clinical Trials

Clinical research is an essential part of the scientific process that leads to new treatments and better care. Clinical trials can also be a way for patients to get early access to  new cutting-edge therapies. Our clinical research teams are running clinical studies on various kinds of cervical cancer.

Lifesaving Vaccine Research

Researchers at Fred Hutch played an integral role in identifying the link between HPV and cervical cancers and developing lifesaving HPV vaccines. Children aged 11-12 are targeted for the vaccines because the vaccines are most effective if given before a person is exposed to the virus. The vaccine can also be given to young women up to age 26 and young men through age 21.

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. Fred Hutch’s Dr. Denise Galloway and her research colleagues here and the University of Washington were key players in identifying the relationship between HPV and cervical cancer and in laying the groundwork for the development of the HPV vaccine. An extremely effective prevention strategy, this vaccine stops most of the infection’s cancer-causing strains. 

Identifying Risk Factors

Since most women exposed to HPV do not develop cervical cancer, other factors — such as cigarette smoking and immunosuppression — likely contribute to its development. Fred Hutch researchers continue to explore how lifestyles and behaviors work in concert with HPV to drive these cancers, and to develop ways to reduce risk.

Our scientists are also exploring genetic mutations that may contribute to the development (or prevention) of cervical cancer and examining how genes and lifestyle factors work together in the development of the disease.

Extending the Power of the HPV Vaccine

Our  researchers are looking at whether the HPV vaccine may also be used to treat, not just prevent, precancers driven by this virus. They are also working to determine the lowest number of effective doses of the vaccine in order to reduce costs and thereby reduce barriers to widespread vaccination.

Tackling Health Disparities

Although cervical cancer’s mortality rate has dropped significantly thanks to prevention and early detection, these benefits don’t apply to all populations. Our researchers are working to reduce health disparities locally in underserved groups and globally in countries where cervical cancer remains a leading cause of death.
Learn more

Active Projects

Coordinating Center for the Population-based Research to Optimize the Screening PRocess (PROSPR) Consortium

Public Health Sciences, Epidemiology

Building on the success of PROSPR I, PROSPR II investigators from a variety of disciplines and institutions are conducting research to improve the screening of cervical, colorectal, and lung cancers.

Funding Agency: National Cancer Institute

Contact: Marty Stiller, mstiller@fredhutch.org

Latest Cervical Cancer News

Going long: Viruses linger with lasting impact Herpes, HIV, Epstein-Barr and other viruses hang around, causing potential long-term health woes. Should ‘long COVID’ surprise us? April 10, 2023
New grants help community organizations overcome health disparities across Washington Community Grant Program supports 11 projects aimed at cancer prevention, screening and more among marginalized groups June 2, 2022
Dr. Denise Galloway elected Fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research Academy Cancer biologist contributed basic and translational insights that made the cancer-preventive HPV vaccine possible March 22, 2022
Learning to trust science with your life Diseases like cancer and COVID-19 can be scary; leaning into the science helps you feel more empowered February 19, 2021