Stimulating Fresh Thinking on 21st Century Cancer Epidemiology

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Welcome to the inaugural posting of the "Cancer Epidemiology Matters" blog, published by the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP) (1). Our aim is to engage epidemiologists and other scientists, as well as providers, consumers, and policy makers, in helping chart the direction of cancer epidemiology in the 21st century.

This blog discusses practices, priorities, findings, and trends in epidemiologic research and how they can be used to reduce the global burden of cancer. We welcome your thoughts and feedback on the continuing and emerging role for epidemiology in the fight against cancer in the 21st century.

This image was created in Wordle using the titles from EGRP's active grants as of February 9, 2012. In order to capture the frequency of other terms, the word 'cancer' was removed from the list of grant titles.

As a fundamental science of public health, epidemiology evaluates the distribution and determinants of disease and other health-related outcomes in populations (2)External Web Site Policy and how this information can be used in policy and practice. Epidemiologic methods and approaches are needed throughout the continuum from discovery to health impact (2)External Web Site Policy to

  • identify causes of cancer and cancer outcomes in populations (e.g., cigarette smoking as a cause of lung cancer, and human papilloma virus and cervical cancer) (3)External Web Site Policy;
  • characterize associations between risk factors and cancer outcomes in terms of absolute, relative, and attributable risks (e.g., dozens of genetic variants as risk factors for various cancers) (4)External Web Site Policy;
  • evaluate the efficacy and effectiveness of proposed applications to reduce the burden of cancer (e.g., risk prediction, screening tests, drugs, policies, and other interventions); and
  • monitor the impact of policy and practice on trends in cancer incidence, mortality, and cancer risk factors.

For more than a decade, EGRP has funded epidemiologic research to understand causes and determinants of cancer occurrence and related outcomes in populations, both in the U.S. and around the world. Between 1997 and 2011, EGRP funded more than 2,000 grants, which have contributed to more than 16,000 scientific publications in the literature.

We are currently taking stock of the major contributions of epidemiology in cancer research, policy, and practice. This blog seeks to identify examples of epidemiology "success stories" (individual studies with a clinical or public health impact or a body of work that has led to a better understanding of determinants of cancer occurrence and outcomes or reduction of the burden of cancer in populations), and to identify the greatest opportunities for cancer epidemiology to make a difference in the next decade in research, policy, and translation to clinical practice.

This blog complements the recently launched NCI effort in identifying and tackling "provocative questions" (5)External Web Site Policy, a process geared to identifying perplexing problems to drive progress against cancer.

Due to recent technological advances in many fields, especially in genomics, molecular biology, and bioinformatics, we think the time is right to take cancer epidemiologic research to the next level to address some, if not all, of the provocative questions identified by the ongoing NCI collaborative process.

EGRP staff and invited guests will post various topics, for example leveraging existing resources, such as biorepositories, for cancer epidemiology research. We seek your thoughts on what you're interested in having discussed in this forum. Post a comment or a question and sign up for the blog’s RSS feed.

Muin J. Khoury, M.D., Ph.D., Acting Associate Director, Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP), Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) (6)External Web Site Policy, National Cancer Institute (NCI) (7)External Web Site Policy

  2. Web Site Policy
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  6. http://cancercontrol.cancer.govExternal Web Site Policy
  7. http://www.cancer.govExternal Web Site Policy


  • Nillanjan Chatterjee - March 16, 2012 at 6:30 PM (UTC -4)

    Great idea!

  • Cancer treatment in India - June 9, 2012 at 1:49 AM (UTC -4)

    Nice inaugural for made good story and providing more information to others…

  • neharani - November 1, 2014 at 3:47 AM (UTC -4)

    good blog

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The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.