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Improving cancer screening and surveillance

With around one in two Australian men and one in three Australian women likely to be diagnosed at some point in their lives, cancer in its many forms is one of Australia’s major research and health care priorities. Despite the growing disease burden, prognoses for many cancer patients are improving, with survival rates on the rise and an increasingly effective variety of screening techniques, therapies and preventive strategies available.

Ensuring our health care systems make the best use of all such strategies is one of the key aims of the Cancer Epidemiology and Population Health Research Group (CEPH). Examining the continuum from prevention to screening, to treatment and patient outcomes, the group works to produce and translate research evidence to improve patient outcomes and inform decision makers on how best to deliver care to the many Australians requiring cancer-related health services each year.

CEPH is headed by Professor David Roder, a key advisor to government, health bodies and non-government organisations on cancer policy.

Areas of research interest include:

  • Primary research and scientific discovery
  • Evidence distillation for policy development
  • Health service evaluation and surveillance
  • Cancer control indicator development for service monitoring
  • Provision of technical support and leadership for health service development
  • Research infrastructure development
  • Policy development

The group currently works in collaboration or under contract with Cancer Australia, Cancer Institute New South Wales, Cancer Council South Australia, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), CanTeen and National and State Health Government agencies across Australia.

Current research projects

  • Developing a National Breast Cancer Database for Research and Service Delivery minus-thick plus-thick

    (PIs: Professor David RoderDr Elizabeth Buckley )

    National Breast Cancer FoundationThere is a pressing need in Australia for national monitoring of cancer pathways from primary prevention through to end-of-life care. This applies across the cancer spectrum but in particular to breast cancer where outstanding opportunities exist to bring together already existing data.

    This project involves systematic development of a database and promotion of its incremental extension across Australia by joining, validating and complementing existing databases. It augments population-based cancer registry data with additional fields on cancer stage, grade, and other prognostic data, as well as biomarkers derived from pathology reports, other diagnostic databases, and clinical cancer registries. It then links this data to screening records; comorbidity indices derived from inpatient, health-insurance and self-reported data; inpatient, radiotherapy-centre data; health-insurance treatment data; and data on self-reported experiences and outcomes obtained from patient sub-samples.

    The first phase funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), and set in South Australia, includes development and refinement of processes for database establishment.

    The subsequent phases would involve advocating extension of the database to cover NSW and ACT, and ideally Victoria with further extension of the database across the remaining states and territories.

    Implementation would be a breakthrough for gaining a health-system-wide population-based database across Australia for research, health-service planning and evaluation, and for monitoring effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and equity in service delivery. It will provide a valuable tool available to  researchers, as well as those planning, funding and administering health services, which will provide opportunities to strengthen services and address gaps to ensure impact where it is needed most.

  • Developing an advanced data system for describing cancer stage, co-morbidity, clinical management and outcomes of Aboriginal people with cancer in South Australia and their experiences with cancer and cancer services (CANDAD) minus-thick plus-thick

    (PIs: Professor David RoderDr Elizabeth BuckleyDr Ming Li)

    The aim of the Cancer Data and Aboriginal Disparities Project (CANDAD) is to develop an advanced cancer monitoring system that:

    • improves cancer diagnosis, treatment and survival among Aboriginal people;
    • decreases the disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples’ access to cancer prevention, screening and treatment; and
    • improves the health service experiences of Aboriginal people at risk of, or diagnosed with, cancer.
  • SA Colorectal cancer data linkage project - update and expansion minus-thick plus-thick

    (PIs: Professor David RoderDr Elizabeth BuckleyDr Ming Li)

    The objective of this study is to update the existing state-wide population-based dataset for CRC patients in South Australia to include cases diagnosed from 2009 to 2013, and all ages at diagnosis. In addition, this project will expand the existing dataset by data linkage to the following datasets:

    • The state-wide Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Database
    • The National Bowel Screening register, and
    • The Medical and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (MBS, PBS).


Professor David Roder

Dr Ming Li

Dr Elizabeth Buckley

Dr Kerri Beckmann

Kazzem Gheybi

Thi Nga (Nancy) Le