2017 Research In Progress
Determinants of Cancer Stage at Diagnosis
When cancer is caught early, the treatments are easier and the cancer can often be removed and cured. This study wants to find out why some cancers are caught early and why some are caught late by looking at the health patterns of people years before a cancer diagnosis.
We will use the health, lifestyle and screening information given by several thousand Albertans who before they had cancer. This type of information collected in the Alberta Tomorrow Project (ATP) is extremely valuable because it is the most accurate when measured before cancer is diagnosed. It is also some of the most detailed information available not only in Canada, but the world. When we combine it with information about their cancer screening visits, say, mammogram dates, then we get an improved view of these health patterns. These patterns will be found using advanced methods that can combine many types of information in reliable ways. The important factors will be tested using mock data that mimics the ATP data. This will identify the best ones to catch cancer early so that they can be targeted by the cancer screening and prevention programs.
The health patterns we discover will be studied in a similar group of adults in the B.C. Generations Project, so that we are confident of our findings. This B.C. study started a few years after the ATP one but has collected similar information on adults who did not have cancer when they enrolled in the study. The confirmed health patterns will then be used to improve cancer surveillance knowledge and activities in Alberta and beyond to find cancer earlier.
The study team includes cancer prevention researchers, cancer surveillance and screening directors in Alberta as well as leaders of groups who will put the results into action.
Effects of Diet and Exercise in the Years Prior to Cancer Diagnosis on Treatment Outcomes after Cancer Diagnosis
Diet and physical activity have important impacts on people’s health. Previous research suggests that eating fruits and vegetables and engaging in physical activity regularly reduce an individual’s risk of getting cancer. Little is known about how diet and exercise before being diagnosed with cancer affects outcomes of treatments after being diagnosed with cancer.
There are a few studies that have found that physical activity after being diagnosed with cancer could improve outcomes of treatments. One study also found that high levels of physical activity one year before being diagnosed with breast cancer improved treatment outcomes. We want to build on this research and look at how diet and physical activity long before being diagnosed with cancer affects treatment outcomes.
To figure out if physical activity before cancer diagnosis affects treatments outcomes we are going to put together data from Alberta’s Tomorrow Project with data from the Cancer Measurement Outcomes Research and Evaluation (C-MORE) group in Alberta. This group keeps data on cancer treatments and outcomes, combining this data will let us analyze how diet and physical activity before cancer diagnosis affect outcomes after diagnosis.
Development and Validation of a Lung Cancer Risk Prediction Model in Alberta’s Tomorrow Project
Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in Canada for both men and women, over and above breast, prostate, and colon cancer combined. Despite advances in treatment, cure rates for this disease have changed little over the past decades with only 3 of 20 beating this cancer. While we have known that diagnosing this cancer in its early phase leads to better survival, only recently has lung cancer screening been proven to save lives and several questions remain regarding the best approach to screening. The individual risk factors, e.g., smoking habits and age, will determine whether an individual should be screened for lung cancer or not. However, based on the current inclusion criteria, to prevent one death due to lung cancer, a large number of individuals need to be screened. The majority of these individuals will never develop lung cancer, but may be subjected to potential harms by engaging in a screening process (e.g., radiation dose, etc.). This project aims to increase the precision of selection criteria for lung cancer so that only individuals most likely to benefit are exposed to an intervention.
Investigating the role of Dietary Intakes of Red and Processed Meat, Vegetables and Fruit, and Fiber on Cancer Incidence in a Large Cohort of Adults in Alberta’s Tomorrow Project
Reducing the prevalence of unhealthy eating is an important challenge to address in order to reduce the burden of cancer in Canada. Current recommendations for cancer prevention suggest eating more vegetables, fruit, whole grains and pulses; less red meat; and no processed meat. However, the scientific evidence is not robust and we do not know whether the carcinogenic effect of red and processed meat consumption may be mitigated by high intakes of vegetables and fruit, and of fiber. Also, consumption of a healthy diet varies between socioeconomic groups. We will study the link between cancer risk and different dietary combinations of red and processed meat, vegetables and fruit, and fiber. We will also examine differences in these relations across socioeconomic groups. We will use available data from Alberta’s Tomorrow Project, which follows since 2000 a large group of 55,000 adults aged 35-69 years with no previous history of cancer. The regular linkage with the Alberta Cancer Registry provides new cases of cancer among study participants. Results will generate important knowledge to help reduce the cancer burden among Canadians by tailoring existing recommendations and targeting specific socioeconomic groups.
Occupational Physical Activity and Lung Cancer Risk
Being physically active have been shown to reduce the risk of some cancers. There are different types of physical activity, including activity at work and recreational activities. Participation in recreational activities has been shown to reduce lung cancer risk. However, the role of physical activity at work in affecting the development of lung cancer is not well-established. In fact, some studies have found that people who have physically demanding jobs also have a higher risk of lung cancer. As people spend many hours at work and some jobs are very physically demanding, new studies are needed to fully understand the role of physical activity at work on lung cancer development. In this research, we will examine how lung cancer risk is associated with physical activity levels at work. Our research will be based on the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP). Our research will include all men and women who were newly diagnosed with lung cancer since CPTP began. For comparison, we will also select a subgroup of people, who did not have a cancer at the beginning of the study. The interview asked detailed questions on the longest-held job for all participants. Using this information, we will compare activity levels in the longest-held job between those who were diagnosed with lung cancer and those who remained cancer-free. This study offers a valuable opportunity to examine, in a short time frame and at low cost, whether physical activity at work plays an important role in lung cancer development.