National Cancer Institute Awards Dr. Ruth Etzioni 5-Year Grant to Fill Gaps in Cancer-Recurrence Data


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Ruth Etzioni, PhD

Ruth Etzioni, PhD

RUTH ETZIONI, PhD, a Biostatistician at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Public Health Sciences Division, has received a 5–year National Institutes of Health grant to advance the science of cancer surveillance by developing, validating, and deploying a scalable and automated approach for identifying cancer recurrence. 

Currently, the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results program (SEER) provides extensive information regarding cancer diagnosis and some data regarding primary treatment and survival, but it does not collect information on metastatic cancer recurrence. The National Cancer Institute, which oversees the SEER registries, has identified this absence as a critical gap in cancer surveillance. 

In the first year of the 2–year phase grant, Dr. Etzioni will use records from the Puget Sound SEER Registry’s Fred Hutch–housed Cancer Surveillance System. She and her team will cull stage I to III breast cancer cases from the database and utilize electronic health records, claims data, and patient-reported outcomes to fill in the missing recurrence information. Dr. Etzioni’s team will then develop an algorithm that can be used to predict metastatic recurrence. 

They will use their new algorithm to identify metastatic breast cancer recurrence within the Kentucky Cancer Registry, validating the algorithm’s accuracy against gold-standard recurrence data gleaned from the electronic health records of the University of Kentucky. 

“Folding recurrence data into the cancer registry is critical to improving cancer surveillance,” she said. “These data are necessary for understanding the burden of cancer and studying the effectiveness of cancer treatments outside of controlled clinical trials.” ■



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