From 1936 to 1945, the Women’s Field Army, hereafter the WFA, educated women in the US on the early symptoms, prevention, and treatment of reproductive cancers. The WFA was a women-led volunteer organization and a branch of, what was then called, the American Society for the Control of Cancer, or ASCC. The WFA, headquartered in New York City, New York, recruited hundreds of thousands of women volunteers across the country. They distributed pamphlets, showed movies, and participated in other grassroots efforts to foster an understanding of reproductive cancers, namely breast and cervical cancer, among other women. The Women’s Field Army aided in reducing the number of cancer-related deaths by spreading cancer prevention awareness and teaching women about their reproductive health and the early detection of cancer, which was one of the first widespread educational resources about reproductive cancers for women.
In 2017, Angiolo Gadducci, Silvestro Carinelli, and Giovanni Aletti published, "Neuroendocrine Tumor of the Uterine Cervix: A Therapeutic Challenge for Gynecologic Oncologists," hereafter, "Neuroendocrine Tumor" in the journal, Gynecologic Oncology. The authors conducted a systematic review of existing literature that documented the symptoms, diagnosis, staging, treatment, and outcomes of women diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumors, or cervical NETs, which are tumors with cells similar to cells from both the hormonal and the nervous system. Based on high mortality rates and the rarity of cervical NET diagnoses, the authors conclude that cervical NETs present a challenge for physicians in terms of devising novel ideas for treatment. By compiling the treatment methods and resulting outcomes of different studies, the authors presented evidence that there is a need for new forms of treatment to reduce the number of women dying from cervical NETs each year.
In 2011, United Kingdom pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline released Cervarix, a vaccination series protecting girls and women from two strains of Human Papillomavirus, or HPV. HPV, a sexually transmitted infection, can present in men and women without symptoms, or may cause symptoms such as genital warts. There is a link between HPV and cervical, vaginal, anal, head, neck, and face cancers, and Cervarix can reduce genital cancers in girls and women, particularly cervical cancer. Gardasil, a similar vaccination against HPV, approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA and available in the US in June 2006 was on the market five years prior to Cervarix’s approval in October 2009. In 2014, because of the heightened cost and lesser coverage, the US market discontinued Cervarix, but as of 2019, it remains popular in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom. Cervarix is the first HPV vaccine administered in China.
Henrietta Lacks, born Loretta Pleasant, had terminal cervical cancer in 1951, and was diagnosed at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where researchers collected and stored her cancer cells. Those cells went on to become the first immortal human cell line, which the researchers named HeLa. An immortal cell line is an atypical cluster of cells that continuously multiply on their own outside of the organism from which they came, often due to a mutation. Lacks’s cancer cells enabled scientists to study human cells outside of the human body, though that was controversial since she did not voluntarily donate her cells for such research. Science writer Rebecca Skloot chronicled Lacks’s life in her book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which became a movie in 2017. Lacks’s HeLa cell line has contributed to numerous biomedical research advancements and discoveries and her story has prompted legal and ethical debates over the rights that an individual has to their genetic material and tissue.