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Europe-wide Study Seeks Causes Of Oral Cancers

04.02.2003


Scientists from The University of Manchester are playing a key role in a major Europe-wide study - believed to be the largest of its kind – of cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx (throat) and oesophagus (gullet). Incidences of these cancers are increasing faster in the UK than almost anywhere else in western Europe.



Every year, cancers of the upper aero-digestive tract kill approximately 10,000 in the UK alone. Alarmingly, these cancers are affecting younger people and are on the increase across Europe.

Professor Gary Macfarlane, of The University of Manchester’s Unit of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, is leading the team responsible for recruiting 400 people suffering from these cancers for the study in the UK. The project, which includes teams from the University of Newcastle and The Information and Statistics Division of NHS Scotland, will recruit subjects from the North West and North East of England, and the West of Scotland.


Across the whole of Europe the project will recruit 2,700 patients. For each patient recruited, the study needs to recruit a healthy individual from the general population, of the same age and sex and from the same area. People will be selected at random from General Practitioners’ lists and then contacted by their GP asking them to participate in the study.

Professor Macfarlane and his team will be recruiting 130 patients from the North-West alone, involving hospitals in Manchester, Salford, Blackburn, Blackpool and Preston.

Alcohol and tobacco are major risk factors in cancers of the upper aero-digestive tract. There are, however, enormous differences in the incidence of these cancers across Europe that are not directly related to consumption of alcohol or tobacco. By studying 2,700 people suffering from these cancers across eight European countries, the ARCAGE (Alcohol Related Cancers And Genetic Susceptibility in Europe) project will help identify those groups at high risk of developing these cancers.

Involving 12 centres across eight European countries, the project will study environmental factors, such as drinking and smoking, along with genetic susceptibility. This should enable researchers to discover who is at risk and why more young people are being affected by these cancers.

Everyone recruited will be interviewed using a study questionnaire, collecting information on alcohol consumption, dietary exposures and lifestyle exposures. A blood sample will also be taken to allow analysis of genetic factors that may put people at high risk.

Professor Macfarlane said: “This project should give us a better understanding of the risk factors involved with these cancers and why they are becoming more common. The results will inform the development of prevention programmes for these types of cancers.”

Jo Grady | alfa
Further information:
http://news.man.ac.uk

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