The Hugh Adam Cancer Epidemiology Unit undertakes research into the causes of cancer and the impact of prevention programmes and cancer screening. We are currently investigating the causes of colorectal cancer, melanoma, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in New Zealand. We have developed methods to provide estimates of the individual risk of melanoma for patients and these methods can be extended to other cancers.
We are collaborating with other investigators both in New Zealand and internationally to assess the best method of screening for colorectal cancer for New Zealand. As well, with colleagues at the University of Canterbury and in Finland, we are investigating the potential contribution of cytomegalovirus infection to the risk of breast cancer.
In addition, the Unit represents New Zealand in the International Cancer Screening Network of the National Cancer Institute (USA) and the International Lung Cancer Consortium of the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Members of staff of the Unit are partially funded by the Director's Cancer Research Trust and grants obtained fund the additional salaries and staff required for specific projects.
The Hugh Adam Cancer Epidemiology Unit has been based in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine since 1987.
The majority of the funding of the Unit comes from the Director's Cancer Research Trust, with grants and bequests also supporting most of the research projects of the Unit.
The goal of the Hugh Adam Cancer Epidemiology Unit is to conduct research into the causes, impact, burden, consequences, and prevention of cancer to the highest international standards, with a particular focus on the causes and consequences of cancer in New Zealand.
Influencing policy and practice
The Unit's research is targeted toward ensuring the maximum impact on reducing the burden of cancer in New Zealand. Advanced training in cancer epidemiology is provided and three international postgraduate students are currently supervised.
Through the involvement of the Unit with the New Zealand Cancer Control Trust, which co-wrote the New Zealand Cancer Control Strategy, the implementation of national cancer control in New Zealand is independently monitored.
Research initiatives of the Unit
- The comparative effectiveness of faecal occult blood and one-off flexible sigmoidoscopy screening for colorectal cancer (Health Research Council)
- A case-only study of melanoma risk factors (Lottery Health Research)
- A comparison of risk assessment models for melanoma
- A comparison of melanoma trends in New Zealand and Australia
- A pilot study for a case-control study of colorectal adenoma in Otago-Southland (to be extended if further funds are obtained)
- A pilot study for a national case-control study of colorectal cancer in New Zealand (to be extended if further funds are obtained)
- A pilot study for a national case-control study of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (to be extended if further funds are obtained)
- The effect of PSA testing in New Zealand on trends in prostate cancer
- A detailed analysis of colorectal cancer in New Zealand
- The effect of migration on the risk of colorectal cancer
- The role of cannabis smoking in lung cancer development (University of California Los Angeles with the International Lung Cancer Consortium of the International Agency for Research on Cancer)
- The development of lung cancer risk prediction models for lung cancer screening (with the International Lung Cancer Consortium of the International Agency for Research on Cancer)
- The role of cytomegalovirus infection on the risk of breast cancer. (University of Canterbury with funding from the Health Research Council)
- A cohort study of mortality and cancer incidence in veterans of the Vietnam War (Ministry of Defence)
- A national case-control study of the causes of ovarian cancer in New Zealand (University of Canterbury with funding from the Genesis Oncology Trust)
- Associate Professor Brian Cox Associate Professor in Cancer Screening and Epidemiology
- Mary Jane Sneyd Senior Research Fellow in Medical Epidemiology
Professor Ann Richardson of the Health Sciences Centre, University of Canterbury, is an honorary member of the Unit.