Brussels, 06 Feb 2003
A European funded project is conducting the largest, most unprecedented study into the cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and oesophagus.
The alcohol related cancers and genetic susceptibility in Europe (ARCAGE) project is funded under the Quality of Life sub-section of the Fifth Framework Programme. It involves 12 centres from seven Member States, two candidate counties and Norway and has a total budget of 2.12 million euro.
The study will examine environmental factors, such as drinking and smoking, along with genetic susceptibility.
'This project should give us a better understanding of the risk factors involved with these cancers and why they are becoming more common. The results will inform the development of prevention programmes for these types of cancers,' said Professor Gary Macfarlane from the University of Manchester's unit of chronic disease epidemiology, one of the project participants.
While alcohol and tobacco are major risk factors in cancers of the upper aero-digestive tract, the disease is not always directly related to consumption of alcohol or tobacco.
According to the study coordinators, incidences of these cancers are increasing faster in the UK than almost anywhere else in Western Europe. Every year, cancers of the upper aero-digestive tract kill approximately 10,000 people in the UK alone. Alarmingly, these cancers are affecting younger people and are on the increase across Europe.
Across the whole of Europe the ARCAGE project will recruit 2,700 patients, selected at random from doctors' lists. For each patient recruited, the study needs to recruit a healthy individual from the general population, of the same age and sex and from the same area.
Each participant in the study will be required to fill in a questionnaire on alcohol consumption, dietary exposures and lifestyle exposures. A blood sample will also be taken to allow analysis of genetic factors that may put people at high risk.
By studying 2,700 people suffering from these cancers across eight European countries, the ARCAGE project will help to identify those groups at high risk of developing these cancers.