Doctoral Defence of Anton Barchuk on June 9th, 2023

The doctoral dissertation of MD Anton Barchuk in the field of epidemiology titled Measuring the burden of cancer in Russia will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Tampere University at 11.00 on Friday 9 June 2023 in auditorium F115 of the Arvo building on the Kauppi campus (address: Arvo Ylpön katu 34, Tampere). The Opponent will be M.D., DSc Max Parkin (University of Oxford) while M.D., PhD Professor Anssi Auvinen from the Faculty of Social Sciences acts as the Custos.

In his doctoral dissertation, Anton Barchuk explored the quality of population-based cancer registries as a source of cancer incidence statistics in the regions of Northwest Russia. He studied the burden of cancer across the country, focusing on the application of epidemiological methods to inform cancer prevention and control activities.

Despite the evident need, epidemiological research on cancer is conducted sporadically and it seldom utilises individual-level registry data and established methodologies in Russia. Barchuk’s study focuses on the quality of cancer registries in several regions of Northwest Russia – covering a population of approximately 13 million – to investigate whether the lack of high-quality data is the underlying cause of the research gap.

The study showed that several regional population-based cancer registries (eg, in the Arkhangelsk and Murmansk regions) are collecting high-quality data mostly in line with international recommendations. The data are complete and accurate enough to be used in modern epidemiological research. However, incomplete data are collected in more populated regions, eg, St. Petersburg, perhaps due to a lack of resources allocated to cancer registration.

Considering those limitations, the study employed national cancer incidence and mortality statistics to examine the epidemiology of cervical and breast cancer as well as premature mortality and productivity losses associated with cancer, providing information on the current and predicting the future incidence and mortality.

“While the burden of some preventable cancer types, eg, HPV-related malignancies, is growing in Russia, such control measures as vaccination and organised population-based screening programmes, which have proved to be highly effective in the Nordic and some other countries, are not implemented,” Barchuk says.

“By utilising accurate cancer registry data, our understanding of cancer landscapes can be enhanced, allowing the development of tailored strategies that optimise prevention, early detection, and treatment. That, in turn, will improve the outcomes and reduce mortality,” he adds.

Barchuk is a graduate of the International Doctoral Programme in Epidemiology and Public Health, which is an international doctoral training and research programme for epidemiologists, researchers and public health personnel at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University. The study was conducted in close collaboration with the International Agency for Research on Cancer.