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Approved research

Risk factors and biomarkers for the development of urological cancers.

Principal Investigator: Dr Blánaid Hicks
Approved Research ID: 48894
Approval date: August 30th 2019

Lay summary

Cancers of the urinary tract system, including cancer of the prostate (in men), bladder and kidneys are some of the most commonly diagnosed cancers within the UK. At present, no reliable screening tests are available for the detection of kidney or bladder cancer therefore investigations of potential biomarkers are important to identify individuals at high risk. Racial disparities have been noted in urological cancer risk, which may be related to associations with BMI, as well as physical activity. However, studies are limited and further research into these associations is warranted. Additionally, while there are a number of established risk factors for some urological cancers evidence on other factors including hormonal factors remains mixed. Thus, this research aims to investigate various risk factors including lifestyle, and hormonal risk factors, as well as potential biomarkers that may assist in the early diagnosis of urological cancers. Specifically we aim to investigate; 1. Lifestyle factors, including BMI, Waist hip ratio, medications and sociodemographic factors (including ethnicity) and urological cancer risk. 2. Hormonal factors and urological cancer risk. Including analyses to investigate to what extent hormonal factors explain the association between BMI and urological cancer risk. 3. Whether baseline levels of certain blood biomarkers, e.g. eGFR, cystatin C levels, C-reactive protein and apoliprotein levels are associated with early diagnosis of urological cancer risk. This project will span over a three-year period. Linking the UK Biobank and cancer registries, we will information on members who have been diagnosed with cancer. Using appropriate statistical techniques, we will compare those participants who developed cancers to those who did not, examining questionnaire and interview data (physical activity, medications etc.), physical measures (e.g. body size measures) and relevant biomarkers from blood and urinary samples. The overall aim of the UK Biobank is to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of serious and life-threatening illness, including cancer. This project aims to further elucidate the aetiology of urological cancers. In addition, this study will provide insight into the biological mechanism through which obesity may influence urological cancer risk and on the role of various modifiable and non-modifiable characteristics, potentially providing opportunities for the development for interventions for urological cancer prevention. Urological cancers still often present at later stages, impacting upon survival, thus biomarkers may be identified which could be used to assist early diagnosis and improved survival.