Visual Universitätsmedizin Mainz

Cancer Epidemiology

The UCT Mainz has a long-standing expertise in cancer epidemiology and outcome research with a specific focus on the identification of risk factors for cancer incidence and mortality and on late effects after cancer treatment.


  • We investigated survival for breast cancer (Blettner M. Breast Cancer 2015) as well as risk factors for the incidence of brain, head and neck, thyroid, and lung cancer. Research on late effects comprises analyses of survival, occurrence of secondary malignancies and cardiovascular late effects, quality of life (QoL), psychosocial rehabilitation, and cancer survivorship (Singer S. Head and Neck 2015). Risk factors for late effects have been investigated in several case control and cohort studies (e.g. Singer S. Cancer 2014); and measures for secondary prevention can be deducted from these findings.
  • A specific and unique expertise at the UCT Mainz exists in radiation-related risk factors regarding the incidence of malignant diseases and treatment of late side effects. The ISIMEP study (BMBF) identifies intrinsic radiation sensitivity, its mechanisms and epidemiology, the PASSOS study (BMBF) estimates personalized long-term outcomes after radiation exposure in a large cohort of breast cancer patients.
  • Ongoing research projects are aiming at exploring genetic determinants, biological assays and clinical dose constraints to identify patients with an increased risk for late effects. Here, we compare data from the German Childhood Cancer Registry (n=55,000 childhood cancer patients and survivors in active follow up), which is based in Mainz since 1980, and the population based Gutenberg Health Study (GHS; n=15,000 inhabitants of Mainz-Bingen), which is based at the University Medical Center Mainz too.
  • Late effects in childhood cancer survivors are currently explored in three investigator initiated trials at the UCT. The “CVSS study” is an interdisciplinary clinical-epidemiological cohort study conducted jointly by the UCTs Pediatric Hematology / Oncology / Hemostaseology Center, the UCTs Institute for Medical Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics (IMBEI), and the Preventive Cardiology Center, and is supported by research grants of the DFG. The CVSS study investigates clinical and subclinical cardio-vascular disease and risk factors in childhood cancer long-term survivors in order to identify risk groups which require medical and / or pharmacogenetic screening. So far, 934 of the 1000 participants have been examined and the entire planned cohort of 1000 study participants will be completed by the end of 2015.
  • Within the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), several projects to develop modern instruments to measure QoL in cancer patients and assess clinical benefit of anti-neoplastic treatment have been initiated. Together with international partners from 29 countries, we revise the cent version of the head and neck cancer EORTC questionnaire in order to enable the capturing of QoL issues associated with modern treatment regimens. We also lead the development of a thyroid cancer specific QoL instrument (currently in phase III), along with researcher from 19 countries. Long-term QoL is currently being investigated in lung cancer survivors (LARIS study, funded by the DKTK) and in survivors of Childhood Cancer (PANCARE Life and PANCARE SurfUp studies, funded by the EU). These studies are large multi-center projects, led by members of the UCT Mainz.
  • During the last years, several UCT research groups have focused on the identification of novel biomarkers and its association with clinical parameters. These include i) detection of circulating tumor cells by nanoparticle-based magnetic flow cytometry (Stauber R. Lab Chip 2013); ii) the analysis of AMBP1 as a predictive marker for pre-cancerous colon adenomas (Schild H.; patented by BioNTech (PCT/EP2013/059845)); iii) exploring DNA damage response markers in leukemia patients (Kindler T. Blood 2014); iv) analysis of cell deathregulation proteins in renal cell carcinoma (Roth W. Oncotarget 2015); v) development of the DNA apatmers screening platform “Somamers” to identify serum biomarkers (D. Schuppan laboratory); or vi) involvement of TF signaling pathway and the extrahepatic synthesis of coagulation proteases by tumor associated macrophages (Ruf W. PLoS One 2013). 


A future aim will be to validate these data using samples stored in our liquid and tissue biobanks to link these data with information provided in the Clinical Cancer Registry and to initiate well-structured prospective clinical trials coordinated by the UCT clinical trials unit.

Most significant publications since 2013

  • Hjorth, L., R. Haupt, R. Skinner, D. Grabow, J. Byrne, S. Karner, G. Levitt, G. Michel, H. van der Pal, E. Bardi, J.D. Beck, F. de Vathaire, S. Essig, E. Frey, S. Garwicz, M. Hawkins, Z. Jakab, M. Jankovic, B. Kazanowska, T. Kepak, L. Kremer, H. Lackner, E. Sugden, M. Terenziani, L.Z. Zaletel, P. Kaatsch, and N. PanCare. 2015. Survivorship after childhood cancer: PanCare: a European Network to promote optimal long-term care. European journal of cancer. 51:1203-1211.
  • Kaatsch, P., C. Hafner, G. Calaminus, M. Blettner, and M. Tulla. 2015. Pediatric germ cell tumors from 1987 to 2011: incidence rates, time trends, and survival. Pediatrics. 135:e136-143.
  • Konig, J., R. van Ewijk, K. Kuhr, H. Schmidberger, A. Wockel, R. Kreienberg, and M. Blettner. 2015. Radiotherapy effects on early breast cancer survival in observational and randomized studies: a systematic analysis of advantages, disadvantages and differences between the two study types. Breast cancer. e1-10. DOI 10.1007/s12282-014-0579-2
  • Singer, S., A. Meyer, S. Wienholz, S. Briest, A. Brown, A. Dietz, H. Binder, S. Jonas, K. Papsdorf, J.U. Stolzenburg, U. Kohler, J. Rassler, R. Zwerenz, K. Schroter, A. Mehnert, M. Lobner, H.H. Konig, and S.G. Riedel-Heller. 2014. Early Retirement in Cancer Patients With or Without Comorbid Mental Health Conditions. Cancer-Am Cancer Soc. 120:2199-2206.
  • Schmidt, M., B. Hellwig, S. Hammad, A. Othman, M. Lohr, Z.L. Chen, D. Boehm, S. Gebhard, I. Petry, A. Lebrecht, C. Cadenas, R. Marchan, J.D. Stewart, C. Solbach, L. Holmberg, K. Edlund, H.G. Kultima, A. Rody, A. Berglund, M. Lambe, A. Isaksson, J. Botling, T. Karn, V. Muller, A. Gerhold-Ay, C. Cotarelo, M. Sebastian, R. Kronenwett, H. Bojar, H.A. Lehr, U. Sahin, H. Koelbl, M. Gehrmann, P. Micke, J. Rahnenfuhrer, and J.G. Hengstler. 2012. A Comprehensive Analysis of Human Gene Expression Profiles Identifies Stromal Immunoglobulin kappa C as a Compatible Prognostic Marker in Human Solid Tumors. Clin Cancer Res. 18:2695-2703.


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