In recent decades a considerable proportion of cancer research has focused on the five most common cancers – prostate, bowel, breast, lung and melanoma and as a result significant progress has been achieved in understanding these cancers, however less common cancers (other than those listed above) remain comparatively under researched.
The Forgotten Cancers Project aims to improve epidemiological understanding of less common cancers by examining associations between lifestyle exposures, common genetic variants and the risk of developing the disease. By recruiting 15,000 cases and 15,000 family controls, the project will act as a powerful research platform for use in validating future hypotheses as well as making a substantial contribution to international consortia to strengthening research into cancers where localised research is limited by small numbers of diagnosed cases and generally higher mortality.
Any Australian diagnosed as an adult, with a less common cancer, is eligible to participate. The project is a population-based, family-case-control study, collecting data on lifestyle and occupational exposers, family history, and sampling DNA from saliva for genotyping and future biomarker studies. Registration and participation relies on online voluntary self-registration which relies on effective media and marketing campaigns.
Currently 842 cases and 492 controls are participating in the project. Increased participation in recent months correlates with more widespread marketing. Cases are primarily been Victorian residents reflecting the levels of publicity in Victoria compared to other states. It’s anticipated with increased national awareness that interstate registration will improve.
By collecting lifestyle, occupational and family history data and DNA from around 30,000 participants, The Forgotten Cancers Project will offer a unique opportunity to further research into less common and under researched cancers with an aim to better inform prevention and improve survival and treatment for those diagnosed in the future.