Cancer pharmacoepidemiology is emerging as an area of great interest in the medical community. With the increased use of prescription drugs across all ages, the long-term use of prescription drugs in the general population has reached unprecedented levels. While many of these drugs have been shown to have short-term benefits, their long-term effects are less certain. Indeed, there are concerns that some drugs may increase the risk of certain cancers. Furthermore, there are concerns that some cancer treatments themselves may be associated with important adverse events.
To address these concerns, my research program has three main objectives: 1) to assess whether commonly-prescribed drugs are associated with an increased risk of specific cancers, 2) to assess the safety of cancer treatments, and 3) to develop and apply innovative methods to deal with challenges in conducting cancer pharmacoepidemiologic studies. These objectives will be achieved by conducting large observational studies using comprehensive electronic patient databases and sophisticated pharmacoepidemiologic methods.
While trials are considered the gold standard for the assessment of drug efficacy, they are not designed to assess rare events such as cancer that develop over many years. Similarly, trials of cancer treatments are not designed to assess uncommon yet important adverse events, mainly because of their smaller sample sizes and short durations of follow-up. Thus, there is a need for observational studies in the post-approval setting. With around 2 in 5 Canadians developing cancer in their lifetimes, and 1 in 4 will dying from the disease, it is a public health priority to minimize the risk that may be associated with prescription drugs. Thus, my research program will address important public health questions using rigorous pharmacoepidemiologic methodologies and will provide the concerned stakeholders with the necessary information to make informed decisions on the safety of prescription drugs.