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Section of Infections

Infections and Cancer Epidemiology Group

Objectives

The Infections and Cancer Epidemiology Group (ICE) provides regular global estimates of the cancer burden attributable to infections as key public health policy indicators, incorporating new data and an improved methodology. Etiological priorities include establishing the population attributable fraction of HIV for cancer (particularly cervical cancer) and of Epstein–Barr virus for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and gastric carcinoma, as well as collating evidence on strongly suspected causal associations (e.g. hepatitis B virus and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, hepatitis C virus and cholangiocarcinoma) through new molecular epidemiology studies and/or meta-analyses.

ICE leads collaborative re-analyses and multicentre molecular epidemiological studies to address pertinent hypotheses in infection-attributable cancer research that cannot be addressed by any single study. A good example of this is human papillomavirus (HPV)-related anal cancer, which is rare at a global level but has an elevated incidence in certain high-risk groups, requiring a broad range of epidemiological approaches to understanding its natural history, including interaction with HIV, to inform prevention.

Research on HPV and cervical cancer is well advanced on the pathway from discovery to application in public health policy. As the emphasis increasingly shifts towards the implementation of existing tools and the World Health Organization (WHO) strategy for the global elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem, a research priority in ICE is to evaluate (through the generation of original data on effectiveness from low- and middle-income countries), as well as to model, the impact of cervical cancer control programmes, particularly HPV vaccination.

ICE liaises with WHO to ensure efficient provision of the most relevant research outcomes and advice for global prevention strategies for infection-attributable cancers.

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