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What We Study

DCEG research covers a range of exposures and risk factors for cancer, giving priority to emergent issues identified through epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory observations, as well as public health concerns. Major fields of study include:


Environmental and Occupational Exposures
A range of exposures, including industrial and occupational exposures, radiation, air pollutants, and drinking water contaminants.

Lifestyle Factors
Behavior-related factors such as diet and nutrition, energy balance and obesity, tobacco use, alcohol use, and physical activity.

Health and Medical History Factors

COVID-19 Related Research

DCEG investigators are applying their expertise to accelerate our understanding of the range of outcomes in patients with COVID-19 and identify those at greatest risk of adverse outcomes. Learn more about COVID-19 research efforts.

Infectious Agents

Multidisciplinary studies of populations in the United States and abroad to clarify the relationship of infectious agents—such as bacteria and especially viruses—to human cancer and other conditions. Learn more about infectious agents.

Immunologic Factors

Studies of the role of the immune system in cancer etiology, measuring the immune response as part of the host response to exogenous (outside) exposures, and considering how chronic inflammation from infection is related to cancer risk. Learn more about DCEG research on immunologic factors.

Endogenous Hormones

Investigations into how the body’s own hormone production may be related to risk for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer as well as testicular cancer and other malignancies. Learn more about DCEG research on endogenous hormones.

Reproductive Factors

Studies of how parity, infertility, age at menarche and menopause, and other factors influence risk of hormone-related cancers. Learn more about DCEG research on reproductive factors.

Pharmaceutical Agents and Exogenous Hormones

Studies of the effect of pharmaceutical agents such as over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs, and exogenous hormones such as oral contraceptives and menopausal hormone therapies, on cancer risk. Learn more about pharmaceutical agents and exogenous hormones.

Psychosocial Effects of Cancer Predisposition Syndromes

The Clinical Genetics Branch investigates and defines best practices of medical, psychosocial, and genetic counseling, as well as risk assessment and communication, to counsel and care for at-risk individuals and families. Read more about research on the Psychosocial Effects of Cancer Predisposition Syndromes.

Medical Radiation

Researchers are studying radiation exposure from screening and diagnostic tests that utilize ionizing radiation, radiation treatment for benign diseases, and late effects of radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer. These studies seek to quantify the late effects of these exposures for the general population and for cancer survivors specifically. Learn more about medical radiation exposures.

Second Primary Cancers and Other Outcomes Among Cancer Survivors

As the population of cancer survivors continues to expand rapidly, there is an increasing need to bring rigorous epidemiological approaches to survivorship research. DCEG created the Cancer Survivorship Research Unit (CSRU) to increase our understanding of the adverse effects of treatment through trans-disciplinary epidemiological and genetics studies and improve the clinical care and quality of life of cancer survivors. Learn more  the CSRU and research on second primary cancers and other outcomes among cancer survivors.


Genetic and Molecular Studies in Radiation

Studies to understand the interplay of molecular and genetic effects and radiation on cancer etiology. This type of work involves biological samples and high-quality dosimetry or other exposure assessment. Learn more about DCEG genetic and molecular studies in radiation.

Genetic Susceptibility

Studies of the role of common and uncommon inherited variations in the genetic code that are associated with increased risk of cancer. Learn more about DCEG research on genetic susceptibility.

Telomere Molecular Epidemiology

Studies of telomeres—nucleoprotein structures that are designed to protect the ends of chromosomes and are critical to chromosome stability. Research covers characterization of telomere length as a cancer risk factor and identification of genetic determinants of telomere length. Learn more about DCEG research on telomere molecular epidemiology.