Cancer Control

Professor David Whiteman

Senior Scientist & Group Leader

Research undertaken by the Cancer Control Group is conducted with a view to reducing the burden from cancer through identifying risk factors, then translating these research findings into policy and practice. This includes research to identify the environmental and genetic factors that cause cancer, as well as research into early diagnosis, treatment and survival.

The group had two major areas of research focus: melanoma and skin cancer, and upper gastrointestinal neoplasia.


  • QSkin – the world’s largest study of melanoma and skin cancer
  • PROBE-Net – the Progression of Barrett’s Esophagus Network
  • The Preventable Burden of Cancer Project
  • Exploring the causal pathways to cutaneous melanoma
  • BEAGESS: Barrett’s and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Genetic Susceptibility Study
  • BEACON: The Barrett’s Oesophagus and Adenocarcinoma Consortium
  • The Epidemiology of Head and Neck Cancer project


Internal Collaborators

External Collaborators

  • Mark Smithers, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Department of Surgery, Brisbane
  • Peter Soyer, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland
  • Kiarash Khosrotehrani, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland
  • Monika Janda, Queensland University of Technology, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
  • Wayne Phillips, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne
  • Andrew Barbour, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland
  • Reginald Lord, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney
  • David Watson, Flinders University Department of Surgery, Adelaide
  • Sanchia Aranda, Cancer Council Australia

Overseas Collaborators

  • Margaret Karagas, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
  • Magdalena Claeson, Sweden
  • Tamar Njisten & Loes Hollestein, Erasmus University, The Netherlands
  • Tom Vaughan, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, USA
  • Rebecca Fitzgerald, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Doug Corley, Kaiser Permanente Research Division, San Francisco, California, USA
  • Christian Abnet, National Cancer Institute, Washingto DC, USA
  • Dr Petra Lahmann, Germany
  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Cancer Council Queensland

Whiteman DC, Whiteman CA, Green AC. Childhood sun exposure as a risk factor for melanoma: a systematic review of studies. Cancer Causes Control 2001;12:69-82. (574 cites). This paper provided strong evidence that sun exposure during early life is more potent at inducing melanoma development than sun exposure occurring in adulthood.

Whiteman DC, Watt P, Purdie DM, Hughes MC, Hayward NK, Green AC. Melanocytic nevi, solar keratoses and divergent causal pathways to cutaneous melanoma J Natl Cancer Inst 2003;95:806-812. (308 cites) IF (2003) This paper first proposed the ‘divergent pathway model for melanoma’

Whiteman DC, Sadeghi S, Pandeya N, Smithers BM, Gotley DC, Bain C, Webb PM, Green AC. Combined effects of obesity, acid reflux and smoking on the risks of adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus. Gut 2008; 57: 173-180 (251 cites). This publication focussed on the causes for adenocarcinomas of the oesophagus and demonstrated important interactions among risk factors, providing strong evidence that patients with clusters of risk factors have significantly higher risks of cancer than people with only one risk factor.

Levine D, Ek WE, Zhang R, Liu X, Onstad L, Lao-Sirieix CSP, Gammon MD, Corley DA, Shaheen NJ, Bird NC, Hardie LJ, …. MacGregor S, Whiteman DC, Vaughan TL. Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies New Susceptibility Loci for Esophageal Adenocarcinoma and Barrett’s Esophagus Nature Genetics 2013;45, 1487–1493 (102 cites). Whiteman and Vaughan were co-Principal Investigators for the Barrett’s and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Gene Environment Susceptibility Study. Pooling data and samples from 14 studies, comprising more than 5000 cases and 10,000 controls, we identified three new independent loci conferring significantly increased risks of oesophageal neoplasia.


QSKIN: the burden of cancer

Suitable for Masters and PhD students. The QSkin study is a longitudinal cohort study established with the primary aim of deriving measures of absolute and relative risk for basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma associated with phenotypic, genetic, clinical, and environmental factors. Secondary aims were to estimate the burden (treatments, hospitalisations, […]

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