Cancer prevention and screening
Professor Jack Cuzick runs the internationally renowned Centre for Epidemiology, Mathematics and Statistics at the Wolfson Institute in London. The department carries out a huge range of research on many different cancer types, and is concerned with cancer prevention and screening, especially for breast, cervical and bowel cancers.
Watch a video featuring Professor Cuzick talking about the IBIS-2 breast cancer prevention trial:
In recent years, Professor Cuzick's team has published a number of highly influential research papers, and the department is now recognised worldwide as one of the leading groups in its field.
Professor Cuzick's research focuses heavily on collecting and number-crunching large amounts of raw data. As a result, the department is developing brand new ways to make better sense of this data. This covers a wide range of possible applications, from analysing results from laboratory experiments to drawing results from, and designing, better clinical trials.
IBIS-I breast cancer prevention trial
About 5 to 10 percent of women are at high risk of developing breast cancer, primarily because of a strong family history of the disease. Starting in 1992, Professor Cuzick's team ran a huge study called the International Breast Cancer Intervention Study (IBIS-I), to see whether a drug called tamoxifen could help prevent breast cancer in these women.
The results showed conclusively that tamoxifen reduced breast cancer rates by 30 per cent amongst participants.
IBIS-II breast cancer prevention trial
Tamoxifen can have some side-effects, and studies have suggested that anastrozole may be more effective than tamoxifen, and have fewer side-effects. In order to test this, the team aims to recruit 6,000 post-menopausal women at high risk of breast cancer over several years, from more than forty hospitals worldwide.
Another part of the IBIS-II trial is a study involving women who have had a condition called 'ductal carcinoma in situ' (DCIS). DCIS is considered by some to be a 'pre-cancerous' condition, and by others to be a very early form of breast cancer.
The team is recruiting a further 4,000 women who have been treated for DCIS, and testing whether anastrozole or tamoxifen is more effective in stopping these women from developing invasive breast cancer.
IBIS breast cancer risk evaluator
In 2004, Professor Cuzick and his team developed a computer programme called the IBIS Risk Evaluator. The programme can calculate an estimate of a woman's risk of breast cancer, based on several factors, and can help doctors decide whether a woman needs reassurance or advice on early detection (screening) and prevention.
In 2003, the researchers published a study involving 11,000 women, which may lead to a more accurate way of screening to prevent cervical cancer. The test detects a virus, human papillomavirus (HPV), that causes almost all cases of the disease.
Bowel cancer screening
The NHS is currently rolling out a national bowel cancer screening programme across the UK. The programme will be based on the Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test, which can detect bowel cancer by looking for blood in the faeces.
In collaboration with scientists at the Cancer Research UK Colorectal Cancer Unit, Professor Cuzick and his team have been investigating whether bowel screening using a second technique, flexible sigmoidoscopy, could also save lives, as it can detect both pre-cancerous changes and the early signs of the disease.
The NHS is now carrying out large scale pilots of flexible sigmoidoscopy in people in their late fifties.
Visit MyProjects to watch a video about Professor Cuzick's work and to donate directly to his research.