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Research Highlights - DCEG News Updates

Highlighted research findings and scientific papers by DCEG investigators.
    • Cancer Death Rates Among Black People Declined Over Time, but Remain Higher than Other Racial and Ethnic Groups
      , by NCI Staff

      Wayne Lawrence, Dr.Ph.H., postdoctoral fellow in the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch, and Meredith Shiels, Ph.D., senior investigator in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch report that from 1999 to 2019, rates of cancer deaths declined steadily among Black people in the United States. Nevertheless, in 2019, Black people still had considerably higher rates of cancer death than people in other racial and ethnic groups.

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    • HPV 16 Variants Associated with Prognosis for Oropharyngeal Cancer
      , by Jennifer K. Loukissas, M.P.P.

      Human papillomavirus-driven oropharyngeal cancer (HPV-OPC), a type of throat cancer caused by oral HPV infection, is rapidly increasing in incidence in the US. This is the first study to sequence the HPV genome in a large number of HPV-OPC, and links HPV16 genetic variants to poorer patient survival. Median survival was 4 years for OPC patients with an HPV infection with one or more of eight specific viral genetic variants compared to 19 years for patients with infections without these variants.

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    • Uterine Cancer Death Rates Rising, Highest Among Black Women in the United States
      , by Justine E. Yu, Ph.D.

      A study led by Dr. Megan Clarke in the Clinical Epidemiology Unit, finds mortality rates from uterine cancer have been rising in the United States from 2010 to 2017, and are highest among non-Hispanic Black women. The higher death rates are driven by rising incidence of aggressive subtypes of uterine cancer, which are more commonly diagnosed in non-Hispanic Black women.

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    • Spectrum of Skin Cancer Risk Characterized for Solid Organ Transplant Recipients
      , by Maura Kate Costello, M.A.

      In the largest cohort study to date of solid organ transplant recipients, Michael Sargen, M.D., and colleagues characterized the spectrum of risk for common and rare non-keratinocyte skin cancers. Key risk factors that may contribute to elevated risk are viruses, UV radiation exposure, and immunosuppression.

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    • With Big Data Come Big Responsibilities
      , by Elise Tookmanian, Ph.D.

      Data science provides a powerful transdisciplinary approach to data stewardship and analysis that allows researchers to take full advantage of the increasing scale of epidemiological data. DCEG investigators are implementing this approach across the Division by building collaborative data platforms and software tools for large-scale epidemiological research.

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    • Making Strides Toward Precision Medicine for Individuals with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome
      , by Maura Kate Costello, M.A.

      LFS research conducted in the Clinical Genetics Branch reveals nuanced cancer incidence patterns, key distinctions within the LFS population, and areas for improvement in TP53 variant classification and clinical management.

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    • Study Suggests HPV Vaccine Would Prevent Most Cervical Cancers/Precancers Across Major U.S. Racial/Ethnic Groups
      , by Elise Tookmanian, Ph.D.

      Investigators from the CDC, Biostatistics Branch, and Clinical Genetics Branch collaborated on a pooled analysis of human papillomavirus (HPV) genotype studies in the U.S. and showed that among major racial and ethnic groups, at least 84% of cervical precancers and 90% of invasive cancers were attributed to HPV types targeted by the 9-valent HPV vaccine. Among non-Hispanic Black women, a higher proportion of squamous cervical precancers were attributed to non-vaccine types, especially HPV 35.

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    • Small Increases in Physical Activity Could Prevent Over 100,000 Deaths/Year
      , by Elise Tookmanian, Ph.D.

      A research letter from Pedro Saint-Maurice, Ph.D., and Charles Mathews, Ph.D., in the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch and Barry Graubard, Ph.D., in the Biostatistics Branch, reported that if the adult population in the United States increased moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity by 10 minutes per day, more than 100,000 deaths per year could be prevented. Similar benefits were observed regardless of sex or racial and ethnic group.

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    • Gastric Autoantibodies Associated with Elevated Gastric Cancer Risk in Women
      , by Elise Tookmanian, Ph.D.

      Using blood samples from a cohort of young Finnish women, Minkyo Song, M.D., Ph.D., and Charles Rabkin, M.D., in the Infections and Immunology Branch and colleagues discovered an association between the presence of gastric parietal cell antibodies, which are used to diagnose autoimmune gastritis, and elevated risk of gastric cancer. These findings may explain the recent rise in gastric cancer developing at a young age.

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    • New Risk Model Aims to Reduce Breast Cancer Disparities in Black Women
      , by NCI Staff

      Most breast cancer risk tools were developed with data mainly from White women and don’t work as well for Black women. A new tool that estimates risk for Black women may help identify those who might benefit from earlier screening, enabling earlier diagnosis and treatment.

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    • International Agency for Research on Cancer Produces New Cervical Cancer Screening Handbook
      , by Jennifer K. Loukissas, M.P.P.

      Nicolas Wentzensen chaired, and Mark Schiffman participated in an international working group convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), to develop an IARC Handbook of Cancer Prevention for cervical cancer. The IARC handbook summarizes the evidence on cervical cancer biology, diagnosis, and screening and demonstrates that HPV DNA testing for cervical screening has higher effectiveness and better balance of benefits and harms compared to other approaches.

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    • Beyond the Signature: Exposing Mutational Patterns of Cancer
      , by Justine E. Yu, Ph.D.

      Mutational signature analysis is a powerful tool for natural history and etiologic studies and could identify high-risk populations that may benefit from tailored screening, treatment, and prevention strategies. DCEG scientists seek to uncover the relationship between these unique signature patterns and the internal processes or external exposures that caused a tumor to develop.

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    • COVID-19 Research: Cancer Screening, Mosaicism and Infection, Seroprevalence Data Visualization
      , by Sharon A. Savage, M.D., and Jennifer K. Loukissas, M.P.P.

      Cancer screening in the context of the pandemic, clinical validation of SARS-CoV-2 assays, genetic mosaicism and respiratory infection risk, seroprevalence data visualization tools, and more. Learn about the latest research on SARS-COV-2 with DCEG.

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    • Gastric and Esophageal Cancers Largely Attributable to Preventable Exposures
      , by DCEG Staff

      Christian Abnet and colleagues found that several modifiable risk factors contribute to a large proportion of cases of esophageal and gastric cancers in the U.S., representing critical targets for cancer prevention efforts.

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    • Estrogen Receptor-Negative Breast Cancer Trends Vary by Location, Race, and Ethnicity
      , by DCEG Staff

      Research led by Gretchen Gierach and Philip Rosenberg found variability by age, race and ethnicity, and geographic location for estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer trends in the United States, despite an overall decline in incidence.

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    • NIH Intramural Blog Highlights Finding on Cell Age and Transplant Outcomes
      , by NIH Staff

      Drs. Rotana Alsaggaf and Shahinaz Gadalla in the Clinical Genetics Branch discuss their research which shows that molecular markers of cellular aging may be more accurate predictors of hematopoietic stem cell transplant success than chronological age alone.

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    • NIH Study Illuminates Origins of Lung Cancer in Never Smokers
      , by NCI Staff

      A genomic analysis of lung cancer in people with no history of smoking has found that a majority of these tumors arise from the accumulation of mutations caused by natural processes in the body. This study describes for the first time three molecular subtypes of lung cancer in people who have never smoked.

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    • Physical Activity May Lessen the Effects of Chemobrain, Study Finds
      , by NCI Staff

      A study found that people with breast cancer who met the minimum national physical activity guidelines before and during chemotherapy had better cognitive function immediately and six months after chemotherapy than people who did not meet the guidelines. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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    • Risk-Based Oral Cancer Screening Can Cut Costs While Maintaining High Sensitivity

      Li Cheung, Ph.D., staff scientist in the Biostatistics Branch finds risk-based oral cancer screening may improve the efficiency of screening programs and still maintain high sensitivity. Findings have public health implications for low-resource settings.

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    • Strategic Plan Outlines Research Priorities
      , by Jennifer K. Loukissas, M.P.P.

      The five-year strategic plan outlines the critical elements to evaluate emerging exposures, including novel biomarkers, employing cutting-edge exposure assessment for a research program that utilizes the full potential of new analytic technologies and data sources. A key focus is a research program that reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the U.S. population.

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