Cancer Epidemiology

Exponent’s epidemiologists and biostatisticians have successfully conducted numerous cancer cluster investigations, literature reviews, meta-analyses, and original epidemiologic studies of cancer risk factors. Our cancer epidemiologists’ expertise includes such diverse exposures as TCE, benzene, asbestos, arsenic, ionizing radiation, chemotherapeutic agents, butadiene, ethylene oxide, dioxins, beryllium, chromium, radio frequency, electromagnetic fields, vinyl chloride, diesel engine exhaust, specific pesticides, and others. Some of the cancers that we have studied are brain cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, mesothelioma, colorectal cancer, melanoma, other skin cancers, and pancreatic cancer.

Several of Exponent’s scientists in this field have combined their cancer epidemiology backgrounds with expertise in cancer mechanisms, regulatory cancer risk assessment methods, and risk communication. They are frequently called upon to serve on scientific advisory committees, as journal editors or peer reviewers, and as invited presenters at scientific seminars. Exponent personnel serve as consultants to industry, government, academia, and health care agencies.

Our epidemiologists have diverse employment backgrounds, including careers at the National Cancer Institute and other cancer research centers, universities, health departments, and industry. We publish scientific papers and regularly present our research at scientific meetings. Our staff’s publications list is extensive and includes articles published in the foremost peer-reviewed scientific journals, such as The New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, Cancer, American Journal of Epidemiology, and Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.


Individuals and communities have a heightened interest in the causes of cancer due in part to the widespread prevalence of this disease, frequent media attention, and personal concerns about developing this disease, which accounts for about 23% of American deaths each year.

In 2015, nearly 590,000 persons are expected to die of cancer in the U.S. Overall cancer incidence and mortality rates (per 100,000 persons per year) in the U.S. have recently declined (National Cancer Institute, 2015). However, the absolute number of new cases each year, currently over 1.6 million, is expected to increase as the baby boom generation ages (American Cancer Society, 2015). Advances in cancer detection, supportive care, and therapy in the past few decades have resulted in increasing numbers of cancer survivors—currently around 14.5 million in the U.S and nearly 19 million by 2024.

While epidemiology has contributed a great deal of knowledge about risk factors for various types of cancer, much about causation remains unknown. Known or suspected cancer risk factors vary by anatomic site and cell type, and may include certain chemicals, selected therapeutic treatments, and other agents, such as radiation and asbestos, that have been identified through epidemiology studies, typically of populations with high cumulative exposure or high intensity of exposure.

Potential exposure to carcinogenic agents can occur in the workplace, outside the boundaries of manufacturing facilities, through the use of consumer products, and as part of routine daily life. Key exposure concerns that typically must be addressed include intensity, frequency, duration, and route of exposure, risk at low exposure levels, evidence of a threshold, and alternative explanations of cancer causation.