The Cancer Epidemiology Research Programme (PREC) at the Catalan Institute of Oncology carries out research and studies related to the causes, early detection and prevention of cancer. The programme works closely with national and international researchers and their respective institutions working in the field of cancer prevention.
The programme led by Silvia de Sanjosé consists of two units:
- The Infections and Cancer Unit (UNIC)
- The Nutrition, Environment and Cancer Unit (UNAC)
Both units have their respective laboratories (Duran i Reynals Infections and Cancer Laboratory and the UNEC Laboratory). The Programme also manages the ICO Information Centre on HPV and Cancer and the e-oncologia (e-oncology) programme.
Infections and Cancer Unit (UNIC)
The UNIC aims to identify the infectious etiology of human cancer. UNIC’s main study area is the human papillomavirus (HPV) and related diseases. At UNIC, many studies focus on understanding the burden, natural history and prevention of diseases related to HPV. Working alongside the UNIC laboratory, one of the primary activities is the identification of HPV in major international tumour series in order to describe the global distribution of HPV genotypes.
The UNIC also has research projects studying infectious, hormonal and genetic risk factors of lymphomas, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and multiple myeloma. The Information Centre takes part in numerous multicentre case-control studies such as MCC-Spain, EPILYMPH, ICGC-CLL, IMMC, and InterLymph consortiums. The unit manages and oversees protocol coordination, the follow-up and evaluation of the cervical cancer detection activities in the primary healthcare centres in Catalonia.
Its main study areas are related to:
1. Genital cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV) studies and prevention through specific vaccines.
2. Infectious aetiology studies of malignant lymphomas.
3. Studies of infectious, genetic and environmental risk factors and the development of lymphomas.
4. Genetic susceptibility and the interaction between genes and environment. Aetiological studies of cervical cancer, oral cancer, throat cancer, laryngeal cancer, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, penile cancer and anal cancer.
5. Research in areas of modelling and economic evaluation of cancer prevention measures in Spain and other countries.
6. ICO Information Centre for HPV and related diseases.
7. Development of logistical instruments for the coordination and dissemination of information about the virus and cancer.
8. Screening and prevention of cervical cancer.
9. Clinical trials of vaccines against HPV and evaluation of the impact of the HPV vaccine programmes.
Lines of research
• Human papillomavirus (HPV) and genital cancer.
• HPV and head and neck cancer.
• Hepatotropic viruses, EBV, polyomaviruses and cancer.
• HPV vaccine trials and intervention studies in cancer prevention.
• Etiological factors related to malignant lymphomas.
• ICO Information Centre for HPV and related diseases.
• Detection and prevention of genital cancer.
• Evaluation of viral detection technology.
• Modelling and economic evaluation of cancer prevention measures.
Nutrition, Environment and Cancer Unit (UNAC)
The Nutrition, Environment and Cancer Unit (UNAC) is made up of a multidisciplinary group including epidemiologists, statisticians, nutrition specialists, computer scientists, molecular biologists, and geneticists. The Unit’s main focus is the aetiological research of cancer within the framework of the European EPIC study of Diet, Cancer and Health promoted by the European Union and coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC-OMS) and Imperial College (London).
The Unit coordinates the EPIC project in Spain. The scientific strategy of the EPIC study is based firstly on recognising that cancer is a complex process involving multiple environmental and genetic factors. Secondly, the strategy understands that making progress in terms of scientific knowledge of the causal relationship between dietary exposure and other environmental factors, and cancer, requires an innovative approach that simultaneously includes the combination of traditional epidemiology instruments, with the use of biochemical and biological markers of exposure, as well as genetic susceptibility markers. The study of the interaction of environmental factors with genetic factors is a key part of aetiopathogenesis.
The Group leads research in gastric cancer and oesophageal adenocarcinoma at EPIC Europe level. The UNAC also works closely with other EPIC research groups studying lung cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer and cervical cancer. Another area to have received a fresh impetus in recent years is research into pancreatic cancer. The UNAC jointly leads an International Pancreatic Cancer Case Control Consortium (PanC4) and is a representative of PanScan, the EPIC Pancreatic Cancer Cohort Consortium.
Another research area within the group is breast cancer survival, which is being researched as part of a new study titled ‘PREDICOP’, a random controlled multi-centre trial designed to assess the effect of a lifestyle intervention combining weight control, dieting and physical activity on the risk of relapses in patients with breast cancer.
Lines of research
• EPIC-EURGAST Project on gastric cancer and oesophageal cancer: identification of risk factors of nutritional, environmental and genetic susceptibility among the European population, the analysis of gene expression, and functional studies to characterise the causal variant.
• Identification of the progression markers for neoplastic lesions for gastric cancer in Spain.
• Endogenous and exogenous exposure to nitrosamines, ingestion of total iron and haemo groups, iron homeostasis, genetic susceptibility, and risk of cancer among the adult population in Europe.
• Exposure biomarkers to acrylamide, genetic susceptibility and the risk of endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer. Dietary intake of acrylamide and the risk of pancreatic and oesophageal cancer in Europe.
• Reduction of the recurrences of breast cancer through weight control, dietary intervention and physical activity.