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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

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:

Environment

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

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.

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
Risks associated with first primary cancer treatments; lifestyle, environmental, and medical history factors; and genetic susceptibility. Learn more about second primary cancers.

Genetics

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.