Cervical Cancer

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Cervical cancer specialists with Duke’s nationally ranked cancer program detect and treat cervical cancer, which is typically caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Our gynecologic oncologists draw upon the latest research findings and our ongoing clinical trials to ensure you receive the best treatment for your condition. We also understand the impact cervical cancer can have on your fertility, sexual function, and psychological health as well as on your family, and we offer support services to help.

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Gynecologic Experts in Cervical Cancer

Studies show that women with gynecological cancers who are treated by gynecologic oncologists -- obstetricians/gynecologists with additional years of training in cancers of the female reproductive system -- have better outcomes. Our gynecologic oncologists work with women with gynecologic cancers every day. We use our training and experience to tailor chemotherapy and surgical treatments to minimize cancer’s impact on your fertility and sexuality. We have dedicated radiation oncology expertise for treating cervical cancer. If surgery is needed, we are skilled in performing complex procedures on the reproductive system.

If you have been diagnosed with the type of HPV that increases your risk for cervical cancer, or your Pap test results suggest precancerous or cancerous cells, we work closely with you to look for suspicious changes in the cervix so treatment can be started at the earliest possible stage. Our overarching goal is to detect cervical cancer early, provide the treatment that's best for you, and increase your chances for a positive long-term outcome.

Learn about vaccines to prevent HPV, the virus that causes most cervical cancer, and PAP screening, which can detect the cancer at its earliest forms.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Early Stage Treatments

Your gynecologic oncologist takes many factors into consideration -- your age and health, your fertility concerns, the size and stage of your cervical cancer, and whether it has spread to other organs -- when determining the right treatment approach for you.


Cryosurgery freezes and kills pre-cancerous cells to stop cancer growth.

Laser Surgery

Laser surgery uses high-energy beams to kill pre-cancerous cells and stop cancer growth.


A trachelectomy is performed when very small tumors are present. Your surgeon may remove your cervix and part of your vagina but leave your uterus intact to preserve your fertility.


A radical hysterectomy removes the cervix and uterus when cervical cancer has not spread. Lymph nodes may also be removed during a hysterectomy to determine if your cancer has spread. Your surgeon may check just a few key lymph nodes, called a sentinel node dissection, or more lymph nodes may be removed during a full node dissection.

Advanced Stage Treatments


Chemotherapy, administered orally or intravenously, may be recommended after surgery to kill cancer cells or slow cancer growth. Chemotherapy is often combined with radiation oncology treatments.

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

A highly precise, computer-controlled machine delivers small doses of high-energy radiation at varying intensities to kill cancer cells. The radiation beams enter the body at various angles and target the tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Internal and External Radiation Treatments

External beams deliver radiation to areas affected by your cervical cancer. We may also use internal radiation devices that are placed directly near the tumor to deliver an even high-dose of radiation to kill cancer cells and halt cancer growth.

Systemic Therapy

When cervical cancer has spread, systemic therapies that treat cancer wherever it may have spread are an important part of treatment. This includes chemotherapy, as well as biological therapies like immunotherapy with drugs called checkpoint inhibitors and antibody drug conjugates (ADCs).

Pelvic Exenteration

While rare, this may be performed in combination with a radical hysterectomy to remove affected organs or tissues, such as the bladder, vagina, rectum, and part of the colon.


If your primary care or OB-GYN doctor finds a positive result on your Pap test, or if you've been diagnosed with certain types of HPV, the following tests may be performed to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Many are performed in a doctor’s office. Some require a surgical procedure.

Blood and Tissue Testing

Performed to distinguish the type of tumor and direct treatment decisions.


A specially designed microscope looks for abnormal tissue in the cervix and surrounding vaginal area.

Imaging Tests

Transvaginal ultrasound, X-ray, CT, PET, and MRI scans may be used to create high-quality images of your cervix and surrounding organs. This helps to pinpoint the location of your tumor and determine whether it has spread.


Removes tissue samples for examination under a microscope to look for cancerous or precancerous cells. A biopsy may be performed at the same time as a colposcopy exam. Biopsy options for cervical cancer include:

  • Endocervical Curettage: A small sample of tissue is scraped from the canal of the cervix using a tool called a curette.
  • LEEP (Loop Electro-Surgical Excision Procedure): A small wire heated with high-frequency energy is used to remove tissue samples for look for precancerous cells and invasive cancer.
  • Cone Biopsy: Removes a larger, cone-shaped amount of tissue with a knife to determine if precancerous cells and/or invasive cancer are present in the cervix.
Best Cancer Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2024–2025.

Why Choose Duke

Nationally Ranked Cancer Program
As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we are recognized for exploring new treatment opportunities through ongoing clinical trials. We offer you the latest research discoveries before they are available elsewhere.

Access to Our Clinical Trials
You may be eligible to participate in our ongoing clinical trials, which explore new therapies including chemotherapy drugs that slow or kill cancer cells, immunotherapy drugs that boost your body’s ability to fight cancer, and biologic therapies that block the systems that allow cancer to grow in your body.

Fertility Services for Cancer Survivors
If you are concerned about the impact of chemotherapy and/or radiation on your fertility, experts at the Duke Fertility Center work closely with you to discuss fertility preservation treatments, which may include egg freezing, tissue banking, and experimental options that are available through our ongoing clinical trials.

Convenient Appointments
We schedule your appointments quickly, coordinate your schedule with your cervical cancer team, and work with you to develop the best treatment plan.

Support for Your Whole Being
Our comprehensive cancer support services range from helping patients minimize the side effects of treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.

This page was medically reviewed on 01/16/2024 by