Cancer

“We're continuing our longstanding history of research on cancer screening and other aspects of prevention and treatment. Our goal remains gathering sound evidence and using it to improve patient care.”

Diana Buist, PhD, MPH,
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator

Research overview

We have all confronted cancer, either personally or through a loved one. Cancer is complex, so Kaiser Permanente Washington researchers work to improve cancer control on many levels: prevention, early detection, effective treatment, and long-term survival.

“Kaiser Permanente Washington cancer research began decades ago, working to make breast cancer screening safe, effective, and personalized,” said Diana Buist, PhD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) senior investigator. “Today we’re continuing that work and studying other types of cancer and other aspects of prevention and treatment. Our goal remains gathering sound evidence and using it to improve patient care.”

Kaiser Permanente Washington cancer research covers breast, colorectal, blood, cervical, lung, pancreatic, and other cancers. Projects include:

  • Strengthening prevention through evidence about risk factors and ways to reduce risk;
  • Studying outreach to increase evidence-based screening;
  • Matching the best screening tests for a cancer with the people at risk for that cancer;
  • Increasing cancer detection by identifying and assisting people who need screening;
  • Improving treatment by identifying effective therapies and increasing the continuity of care; and
  • Encouraging thoughtful communication between patients and providers about cancer, palliative care, and end-of-life options.

KPWHRI investigators join forces with other researchers in multisite projects supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and other organizations. This increases the power of Kaiser Permanente Washington studies and ensures results that many communities can use. KPWHRI researchers are leaders in several collaborative networks and programs:

  • The Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC) Data Resource supports research on breast cancer screening. The BCSC is a network of seven mammography registries, including the Kaiser Permanente Washington Breast Cancer Surveillance Registry, which Dr. Buist leads. The BCSC Data Resource Statistical Coordinating Center is at KPWHRI. The BCSC has the country’s largest longitudinal collection of breast imaging data: 10 million mammograms from more than 2 million women.
  • The Risk-Based Breast Cancer Screening in Community Settings program builds on the BCSC. Its goal is to provide information to policymakers and health systems on effective breast cancer screening. The program identifies strategies that detect cancer early, minimize harms, and reach diverse communities. Senior Investigator Diana Miglioretti, PhD, is the principal investigator.
  • The Cancer Research Network (CRN) is a cooperative agreement of nine community-based health care systems that participate in the Health Care Systems Research Network (HCSRN). CRN researchers study cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and long-term care and monitoring. The CRN includes training for junior investigators. For the CRN, Kaiser Permanente Washington researchers helped to develop the ground-breaking Virtual Data Warehouse system—a standard for managing health data for research. The principal investigator of the KPWHRI CRN site is Associate Investigator Jessica Chubak, PhD.
  • The Population-based Research Optimizing Screening through Personalized Regimens (PROSPR) program supports research that improves cancer screening for breast, colon, and cervical cancer. Associate Investigator Jessica Chubak, PhD, is the principal investigator of the KPWHRI PROSPR Research Center on colorectal cancer and Dr. Chubak and Research Associate Aruna Kamineni, PhD are co-principal investigators for a PROSPR cervical cancer site. Results from PROSPR will inform personalized screening recommendations.
  • The Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET) develops statistical models to study how prevention, screening, and treatment reduce breast, colorectal, esophagus, lung, and prostate cancer in populations. KPWHRI researchers are working in the CISNET on issues of colorectal cancer and breast cancer. 
  • The Centers of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research is an NCI initiative that funds CRN projects that improve communication about cancer and coordinating cancer care.

“The common goal is cancer care improvements that are evidence-based, accessible, and effective,” said Beverly B. Green, MD, MPH, associate investigator. Dr. Green studies ways to increase effective colorectal cancer screening, including advocacy for and outreach to underserved communities.

Recent publications on Cancer

Brentnall AR, Cuzick J, Buist DSM, Bowles EJA. Long-term accuracy of breast cancer risk assessment combining classic risk factors and breast density. JAMA Oncol. 2018 Apr 5:e180174. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.0174. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Henrikson NB, Morrison CC, Blasi PR, Nguyen M, Shibuya KC, Patnode CD. Behavioral counseling for skin cancer prevention: evidence report and systematic review for the US Preventive Services Task Force. JAMA. 2018 Mar 20;319(11):1143-1157. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.21630. PubMed

US Preventive Services Task Force, Grossman DC, Curry SJ, Owens DK, Barry MJ, Caughey AB, Davidson KW, Doubeni CA, Epling JW Jr, Kemper AR, Krist AH, Kubik M, Landefeld S, Mangione CM, Silverstein M, Simon MA, Tseng CW. Behavioral counseling to prevent skin cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2018 Mar 20;319(11):1134-1142. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.1623. PubMed

Onega T, Zhu W, Weiss JE, Goodrich M, Tosteson ANA, DeMartini W, Virnig BA, Henderson LM, Buist DSM, Wernli KJ, Kerlikowske K, Hubbard RA. Preoperative breast MRI and mortality in older women with breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2018 Mar 7. pii: 10.1007/s10549-018-4732-z. doi: 10.1007/s10549-018-4732-z. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Thakral M, Shi L, Foust JB, Patel KV, Shmerling RH, Bean JF, Leveille SG. Persistence of pain quality in community-dwelling older adults with chronic non-cancer pain. Geriatr Nurs. 2018 Feb 21. pii: S0197-4572(18)30001-6. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2018.01.001. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Researchers in Cancer

Diana S. Buist, PhD, MPH

Director of Research and Strategic Partnerships; Senior Investigator
206-287-2931
buist.d@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Diana L. Miglioretti, PhD

Senior Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Edward H. Wagner, MD, MPH

Director (Emeritus), MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation
206-287-2877
wagner.e@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Beverly B. Green, MD, MPH

Associate Investigator
206-287-2997
green.b@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Karen Wernli, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2934
wernli.k@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Erin J. Bowles, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2708
bowles.e@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Denise M. Boudreau, PhD

Sr Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
206-287-2067
boudreau.d@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer B. McClure, PhD

Director of Research, Faculty, & Development; Senior Investigator
206-287-2737
mcclure.j@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jessica Chubak, PhD, MBHL

Associate Investigator
206-287-2556
chubak.j@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea J. Cook, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-4257
cook.aj@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Evette J. Ludman, PhD

Senior Research Associate
206-287-2917
ludman.e@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Nora Henrikson, PhD, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-4675
henrikson.n@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Aruna Kamineni, PhD

Research Associate
206-287-2922
akaminen@fhcrc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Ellen O'Meara, PhD

Research Associate
206-287-2938
omeara.e@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Melissa L. Anderson, MS

Senior Biostatistician
206-287-2647
anderson.melissa@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Laura E. Ichikawa, MPH

Senior Biostatistician
206-287-2395
ichikawa.l@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Onchee Yu, MS

Senior Biostatistician
206-287-2389
yu.o@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Eric Johnson, MS

Biostatistician
206-287-2105
johnson.ex@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rod L. Walker, MS

Biostatistician
206-287-2895
walker.rl@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Weiwei Zhu, MS

Biostatistician
206-442-5215
zhu.w@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

Biostatistician
206-287-2557
wellman.r@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Caitlin Morrison, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2163
morrison.caitlin@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Gaia Pocobelli, PhD

Research Associate
287-2914
pocobelli.g@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Marlaine Gray, PhD

Research Associate
206-287-2620
gray.m@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

David S. Carrell, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2705
carrell.d@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rebecca Y. Coley, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2071
coley.r@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Predrag Klasnja, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-442-5207
klasnja.p@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Lu Chen, PhD, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2024
chen.l@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Affiliate researchers

Wylie Burke, MD, PhD
University of Washington (UW) Department of Medical History and Ethics

Joann G. Elmore, MD, MPH
Harborview Medical Center; UW Department of Epidemiology

Larry Kessler, ScD
UW Department of Health Services

Constance D. Lehman, MD, PhD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; UW Department of Radiology

Kathy Leppig, MD
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington; UW Department of Pathology

Peggy L. Porter, MD
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC); UW Department of Pathology

Emily White, PhD
FHCRC; UW Department of Epidemiology

Rachel Winer, PhD, MPH
Fred Hutchinson/UW Cancer Consortium; UW Department of Epidemiology