Cervical cancer is the third-most-common cancer among women worldwide. Every year approximately 520,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, of whom 260,000 die from the disease.
Most countries that have high incidence of cervical cancer are developing countries, which have inadequate healthcare services and limited resources. In contrast, the incidence of and mortality rates for cervical cancer in developed countries are lower because those countries generally implement health policies that call for vaccination, screening, and treatment.
Despite extensive attempts by researchers to solve the molecular mystery of cervical cancer, the mechanisms of its pathogenesis remain unclear. Tumor markers used in the clinical laboratory, such as squamous cell carcinoma, cancer antigen (CA)–125, and CA19-9, provide some help in diagnosing patients with cervical cancer. However, finding new molecular markers with high sensitivity and specificity is necessary. An article in the May issue of Lab Medicine, “Cervical Cancer Markers: Epigenetics and microRNAs,” focuses on the role of epigenetic changes, particularly microRNAs (miRNAs), to cervical cancer. Several miRNAs that associated with cervical cancer potentially have the advantage of being early biomarkers. Moreover, altered serum miRNAs or single nucleotide polymorphisms in miRNA patterns may predict disease progression.