Cervical cancer

NIH Consens Statement. 1996 Apr 1-3;14(1):1-38; quiz 4p.


Objective: To provide physicians and the general public with a responsible assessment of current screening, prevention, and treatment approaches to cervical cancer.

Participants: A non-Federal, nonadvocate, 13-member panel representing the fields of obstetrics and gynecology, gynecologic oncology, radiation oncology, and epidemiology. In addition, 28 experts in obstetrics and gynecology, gynecologic oncology, radiation oncology, gynecologic surgery, and psychology presented data to the panel and a conference audience of 500.

Evidence: The literature was searched through Medline and an extensive bibliography of references was provided to the panel and the conference audience. Experts prepared abstracts with relevant citations from the literature. Scientific evidence was given precedence over clinical anecdotal experience.

Consensus process: The panel, answering predefined questions, developed its conclusions based on the scientific evidence presented in open forum and the scientific literature. The panel composed a draft statement that was read in its entirety and circulated to the experts and the audience for comment. Thereafter, the panel resolved conflicting recommendations and released a revised statement at the end of the conference. The panel finalized the revisions within a few weeks after the conference.

Conclusions: Carcinoma of the cervix is causally related to infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). Reducing the rate of HPV infection by changes in sexual behaviors in young people and/or through the development of an effective HPV vaccine would reduce the incidence of this disease. Pap smear screening remains the best available method of reducing the incidence and mortality of invasive cervical cancer. Persons with stage IA1 disease have a high cure rate with either simple hysterectomy or, where fertility preservation is an issue, by cone biopsy with clear margins. For patients with other stage I and stage IIA disease, radical surgery and radiation are equally effective treatments. These patients should be carefully selected to receive one treatment or the other but not both, as their combined use substantially increases the cost and morbidity of treatment. Women with more advanced, nonmetastatic disease should be treated with radiation. Recurrent cervical cancer confined to the pelvis should be treated with the modality not previously received. Radiation is recommended to palliate symptoms in patients with metastatic disease.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Consensus Development Conference, NIH
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy / standards
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mass Screening / standards
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Papanicolaou Test
  • Papillomaviridae
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications
  • Primary Prevention
  • Tumor Virus Infections / complications
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / virology
  • Vaginal Smears / standards