January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. This awareness month is a means to raise awareness and provide resources for cervical cancer, and providing support and information about treatment options and coping with physical and emotional side effects.

Cervical cancer is unique: it has a known cause – the human papillomavirus (HPV) – and effective screening and preventive tools. Research into HPV and cancer detection has led to a decrease in cervical cancer by nearly 50% across the world.

Technology has helped a lot in terms of advancing research. The earliest developments, however, began almost a century ago. In this blog, TABIIB takes you through the timeline of cervical cancer research and its events.

400 BCE: Hippocrates describes the first incident of cervical cancer.

Hippocrates made the first mention of a disease that only seemed to affect women. He lacked the vocabulary to describe it back then but early records show that Hippocrates believed in using garlic as a remedy.

1834: Cervical cancer is first identified as a sexually transmitted disease.

It was formally identified as a STD and considered as a focal point of research for medical practitioners at the time.

1905: Introduction of radical hysterectomy as a surgery option for treatment

British surgeon Ernst Wertheim introduces a new surgical technique, the ‘Wertheim radical hysterectomy,’ reporting that more than 30 percent of cervical cancer patients who underwent the surgery remained free of cancer after five years.

1928:  Georgios Papanikolaou develops a cervical cytology smear test

Today it is called (Pap smear) and it is used to detect cancer cells. This test will save thousands of lives and help reduce cervical cancer mortality.

1943: The first Pap test

The Pap test is first generalized as a procedure, enabling doctors to detect and begin treating the cancer before it has a chance to spread.

1951: First successful in-vitro cell line

First successful in-vitro cell line, HeLa, is derived from biopsy of cervical cancer of Henrietta Lacks.

1983 : Development in research of HPV 16

German virologists Harald Zur Hausen and Lutz Gissmann identify HPV 16 in precursor lesions of genital cancer. This established a vital link between HPV and cervical cancer.

1985: Discovery of HPV DNA

Harald Zur Hausen and Lutz Gissmann demonstrate the presence of HPV DNA in cancer cells. Preventive vaccines are developed based on these findings and studies.

1988: The Bethesda System

The Bethesda System is introduced as a standardized screening procedure for cervical cancer.

2006: Gardasil is approved as a treatment

United States FDA approves Gardasil, a vaccine that prevents infection with the two high-risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV)

2009: Further development in Gardasil

HPV vaccine Gardasil is found to be over 90 percent effective in preventing cervical cancer in women.

2013: Avastin is approved as a supplementary treatment

Adding a targeted drug (Avastin) to standard chemotherapy is found to improve survival for patients with relapsed and advanced cervical cancers.

The research into cervical cancer continues till date with various treatments and tests going into the clinical trial stage. This cancer is easily detected and completely preventable. The best way to ensure that all women are safe from this risk of cancer is to get screened as early as possible. You can book a screening test at any of TABIIB’s partner hospitals.

I am a writer, covering the sprawling expanse of healthcare, among many other things that I love writing on. I write on healthcare because I want to do my part in informing people about the health industry,