Walter Schiller studied the causes of diseases in the US and Austria in the early twentieth century and in 1928, invented the Schiller test, or a way to diagnose early cervical cancer in women. Cervical cancer is the uncontrollable division of cells in the cervix, or lower part of the uterus. While living in Austria until his emigration to escape the Nazis in 1937, Schiller concluded that there was a form of cervical cancer, later named carcinoma in situ, that physicians could detect earlier than when tumors start to appear. To determine whether women exhibited that early form of cancer, Schiller stained women’s cervixes with a type of iodine that would stain healthy cervical tissue and not cancerous cervical tissue. Cervical cancer is more deadly to women when it is caught later in its progression, and was difficult to detect in Schiller's time. Schiller’s research enabled physicians to diagnose cervical cancer early, helping women receive treatment quicker and ultimately helping to popularize annual diagnostic exams in the US.
In 1913, journalist Samuel Hopkins Adams published “What Can We Do About Cancer? The Most Vital and Insistent Question in the Medical World,” hereafter “What Can We Do About Cancer,” in Ladies’ Home Journal. Cancer is a disease that is the result of abnormal cell division in different parts of the body, such as the breasts or the cervix. During that time, many women did not discuss or disclose early symptoms of reproductive cancers, such as breast lumps and abnormal vaginal discharge, out of shame or disgust. Thus, people often considered cancer to be a taboo topic. “What Can We Do About Cancer?” provides a representation of what people in the early 1900s thought to be the early warning signs of cancer in women. Although, as of 2021, researchers have made advancements that have increased the scientific understanding of cancer and how it develops, Adams’ article provided women in the US during the 1900s with recommendations on early methods of cancer detection.
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.
Ephraim McDowell was an US abdominal surgeon who in 1809 performed one of the first successful ovarian surgeries. McDowell conducted his medical practice in Danville, Kentucky, where he used novel methods of ovariotomy to remove a twenty-two and a half pound ovarian tumor from his patient, Jane Crawford. At the time, surgeons performed ovariotomies by making an incision into each patient’s ovary to remove a mass. However, their patients often died from infection or blood loss. McDowell’s methods included making an incision into the abdominal muscles, draining the abdomen of blood, and using adhesives with sutures to close the wound. McDowell performed one of the first invasive abdominal surgeries in which the patient survived, and his surgical techniques established the potential safety and efficacy of ovarian and abdominal surgery in the 1800s.
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.