For the time being, however, it is vital women protect themselves against cervical cancer by attending routine screening, including women who have received the HPV vaccine.
Wales, and the School of Medicine in Cardiff in particular, is a great place to work as close collaboration between medical doctors, basic scientists and organisations like Cervical Screening Wales means the best science informs patient care as quickly as possible.
But none of our work would be possible without the women who take part in, and donate samples to our research studies.
I want to extend a huge thank you to them and also to the people who fund our work, including Cancer Research Wales, Cancer Research UK, the Emma Jane Demery Bequest and the Welsh Government.
The other current hot topic in the cervical cancer-HPV field is which vaccine to use to prevent HPV infection?
There are currently two vaccines available – one targets only the HPV types that cause cancer (Cervarix) and the other (Gardasil) prevents genital warts as well as cancer.
For the last three years the UK has used Cervarix, but the tender to supply vaccine for the UK is currently up for renewal.
Genital warts may be trivial compared to cancer, but they cause considerable distress to the 173,000 patients they affect each year in the UK, and treating these patients costs the NHS in the region of £52m a year.
It would be great if the UK Government – or even our own Welsh Government – would take a broader view of the problem of HPV-associated disease and use the better, rather than the cheaper, vaccine.
To contact Ned please email PowellNG@cf.ac.uk.
This article first appeared in the Western Mail‘s Health Wales supplement on the 8th August 2011, as part of the Welsh Crucible series of research profiles.