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Approved Research

Developing and validating risk prediction and prognostic tools for head and neck cancer.

Principal Investigator: Craig Smith
Approved Research ID: 79789
Approval date: March 22nd 2022

Lay summary

Our project aims to construct and test the effectiveness / accuracy of a head and neck cancer risk prediction tool - which will support the communication of head and neck cancer risk.

At the time of writing, there is a limited number of head and neck cancer risk prediction tools. The incidence of head and neck cancers is rising across the UK. The overall prognosis/ survival rate is usually poor but improves greatly if cases are diagnosed and treated early.

It is crucial that any risk prediction tool is validated (i.e tested) on a separate, representative population to assess the predictive accuracy of such a test. This is where the UK Biobank phase of our project comes in. With almost half a million participants recruited from across the UK, this cohort would be the perfect way to assess the effectiveness of our models. This phase would be expected to take roughly at 6 to 9 months, however the overall project will take 36 months. A valid risk prediction tool could serve to help inform the decisions of clinicians and patients of their individual risk. Furthermore, it could serve as a prompt for behavioural change, e.g. referrals to cessation services for smoking.

In addition, socioeconomic status is a potential risk factor for head and neck cancer - it is proposed to assess links with socioeconomic factors and head and neck cancer risk in UK Biobank, which could help inform the targeting of interventions / resources. For instance, if a "high risk" prevention strategy was employed risk models could be tailored to those most vulnerable / marginalised.