TCGA's Study of Cervical Cancer
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancer develops in the tissues of the cervix. TCGA studied two main types of cervical cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, which develops in the thin, flat, squamous cells that line the vagina, and adenocarcinoma, which arises in the glandular cells in the vagina that secrete mucus. Risk factors for cervical cancer include smoking and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Though the HPV infection rate may be lowered by vaccine, until more of the population is vaccinated, people will continue to be infected and cervical cancer will remain a public health issue. Even though most cervical cancer is discovered through annual pap smears, undiagnosed cancer can be deadly. For 2011, it was predicted that 4,290 women would die from the disease and 12,710 women would be diagnosed.1 Additional information on cervical cancer.
What have TCGA researchers learned about cervical cancer?
- Novel mutated genes in cervical cancer include MED1, ERBB3, CASP8, HLA-A, and TGFBR2.
- Some genomic changes in cervical cancer indicate the disease may be treated with available drugs:
- Altered genes involved in regulating the immune system including CD274 and PDCD1LG2 may be targeted by immunotherapeutic agents.
- Tumors with gene fusions involving BCAR4 may be sensitive to a breast cancer drug called lapatinib.
- Nearly three-quarters of cervical cancers had genomic alterations in either one or both of PI3K/MAPK and TGF-beta signaling pathways, which provide multiple targets for therapy.
- Several cancers studied did not demonstrate HPV involvement, indicating that a small percentage of cervical cancers arise in other ways.
1American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2011. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, Inc. 2011.