Research Methods

Large-scale studies with many thousands of people enable us to research different aspects of cancer in much more detail than ever before. This includes answering key questions such as: Which factors increase cancer risk? What are the patterns of cancer diagnosis, treatments, and outcomes? What is the cost of cancer? How many cancer cases and deaths will occur in the future?

This research stream combines epidemiology, genetics, health services and health economics research to answer these questions. To enable future planning for healthcare delivery and inform policy, the team also uses statistical methods to estimate the future burden of cancer.

The  team also provides analytical, methodological and systematic literature review expertise across The Daffodil Centre’s research hubs, as well as to programs delivered by Cancer Council NSW.

Current areas of research focus include:

Identifying cancer journey patterns to inform change and improve outcomes 

Cancer is a complex set of diseases, diagnosed and treated within a complex health system. While no one person’s cancer journey will be the same as another’s, large-scale datasets can provide the opportunity to uncover patterns in diagnostic pathways, care and outcomes across populations. By analysing large-scale datasets, patterns and potential inequalities in cancer outcomes are identified.

Estimating the future burden of cancer 

By analysing trends in cancer incidence and mortality, the team is using statistical methods to make projections of future incidence and mortality. As well as providing evidence for policy makers to assess future health priorities, the findings can be used to evaluate the impact of potential cancer control interventions.

Investigating the lifestyle and genetic factors associated with cancer 

It’s estimated that around one third of cancer cases diagnosed in Australia each year are preventable. The dangers of smoking and sun exposure are well known, but other lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption, diet, BMI, and level of physical activity also play a significant role – both independently and in combination with each other. Moreover, it is known that genetics plays an important role for many cancers. Using data from the 45 and Up Study, UK Biobank, and other large studies, the team is investigating the relationship between these lifestyle and genetic factors and cancer risk. This includes developing and validating tools to identify people at high risk of cancer who might particularly benefit from specific cancer prevention, screening, or early detection approaches.

Calculating the cost of cancer 

The cost of cancer care varies significantly by cancer type and stage at diagnosis. The team is analysing direct health system costs, out-of-pocket and indirect costs. The results provide data for cancer modelling and estimating cost-effectiveness, including the evaluation of potential cancer control interventions.

Research Team

Clare Kahn

Project coordinator – Editorial support

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