A new discovery in cervical cancer treatment, which some scientists are calling the “biggest breakthrough” in two decades, involves using a combination of inexpensive drugs that are already available before the standard radiotherapy treatment.

The risk of death or recurrence from cervical cancer was reduced by 35% for women according to the results of a trial presented at the ESMO medical conference.

Cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer amongst women worldwide. New methods of treatment are urgently needed, as cancer comes back in up to one out of every three cases, despite the advances in radiotherapy care.

Researchers in the UK have found evidence that additional rounds of chemotherapy before other treatments like surgery and radiotherapy can reduce the chances of cancer coming back, which can be delivered quickly by using drugs that are readily available worldwide.

Dr Iian Foulkes, from Cancer Research UK, said: “We’re excited for the improvements this trial could bring to cervical cancer treatment and hope short courses of induction chemotherapy will be rapidly adopted in the clinic.”