Cancer epidemiology is the study of all factors that can affect developing cancer, what kinds of cancer and even how it is likely to progress - examples include lifestyle, diet, habits like smoking and even where you live (environmental factors), or characteristics inherent to one's biology, such as sex, ethnicity and family traits (genetics). Epidemiology ultimately studies the trends and causes of cancer using data from large human populations.
The Cancer Epidemiology research in PGJCCR forms part of one of the Centre’s disciplinary strengths of Epidemiology and Early Detection.
In our centre, research led by Dr Sarah Maguire focuses on cancer genomics and cancer-related bioinformatics. By integrating large data sets, obtained from genome-wide associated studies (GWAS), with epidemiological data, Dr Maguire explores how mutations on non-coding regions of the genome can drive cancer development and progression. This enables a deeper understanding of the role of these mutations in cancer. Dr Stephanie Craig's group uses molecular pathology analysis to inform prognosis within registry and population studies of cancer. Dr Nick Orr is leading a new consortium funded by the National Cancer Institute in the US, and coordinates a group of researchers that will analyse DNA from 5,000 men diagnosed with male breast cancer and compare it to 10,000 without breast cancer - this is the largest study of its kind worldwide, and will allow identifying new genetic risk factors for male breast cancer. Dr Emma Allott works on prostate cancer, and uses a combination of experimental and computational approaches to better understand what makes prostate cancer more aggressive, which in turn can lead to develop better diagnostic and treatment options for these patients. See our Meet the Expert section to find out more about the research developed in her team.
Cancer Epidemiology researchers in the Patrick G. Johnston Centre for Cancer Research also have strong collaborative links with the Cancer Epidemiology Research Group in the Centre for Public Health, led by Prof Helen Coleman. Please visit the student corner to learn how one of our PhD candidates, Niamh Doherty, based at CPH, is investigating links between environmental exposures, such as commonly used medicine or sex hormones (testosterone or oestrogen) relate to risk of developing kidney or bladder cancer.
At Queen’s University Belfast, we have the support of the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, where every new cancer diagnosis across the country since 1994 is recorded, and the Northern Ireland Biobank, where patient tissue samples are stored and catalogued for future studies. With an ageing population in Northern Ireland, we are seeing increasing new cancer cases, which is accompanied inevitably with higher numbers of both cancer survivors and of those dying from cancer. These trends, such as ageing and cancer, highlight the pressing need for research into cancer risk factors to inform prevention efforts, as well as the need for new cancer treatments to improve survival and provision for long term care for the ones that overcome the disease but may need support long after cancer is resolved.
Taken from the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry website
Dr Emma Allott’s research is focused on integrating molecular and epidemiology approaches to identify risk factors for prostate cancer as well as the contributing mechanisms.Meet the Experts
Chief Editor: Dr Cristina Branco
Guest Editor & Expert Content: Dr Emma Allot
Contributors: Niamh Doherty
Publication Design: Kiera McGill