The New England Journal of Medicine published three of the studies -- including the one conducted at CWRU and UHC -- in its April 15 issue. Full-text versions of these studies are available on the journal's Web site at www.nejm.org/content/1999/0340/0015/TOC.aspThe other two studies will appear in the other journal issues this year.
Each year in the United States, almost 15,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 5,000 women die of the disease, according to NCI.
"This is a disease that affects young women," Rose said. "When a woman dies at the age of 30, the impact is devastating to her family and society in general.
In three of the studies, women were randomly divided into groups that received either radiation alone or radiation plus chemotherapy at the same time. The chemotherapy agents were a platinum-based combination of cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil, which were used together in two studies.
In the two other trials, all patients received both radiation and chemotherapy, but the chemotherapy drugs differed between the two studies. The trials involved the use of cisplatin, 5- fluorouracil, or hydroxyurea. Cisplatin-containing therapy was more effective than hydroxyurea.
The exact cause of cervical cancer is unknown, but the incidence of the disease has decreased in the United States by 75 percent since the development of the Pap smear 45 years ago. Cervical cancer remains the second most common cancer for women in the world, and the top cancer-killer of women in Asia, Africa, and South America.