We present the design features and implementation of a clinic-based case-control study on the molecular epidemiology of lymphoma conducted at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota, USA), and then assess the internal and external validity of the study. Cases were newly diagnosed lymphoma patients from Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin seen at Mayo and controls were patients from the same region without lymphoma who had a pre-scheduled general medical examination, frequency matched on age, sex and residence. Overall response rates were 67% for cases and 70% for controls; response rates were lower for cases and controls over age 70 years, cases with more aggressive disease, and controls from the local area, although absolute differences were modest. Cases and controls were well-balanced on age, sex, and residence characteristics. Demographic and disease characteristics of NHL cases were similar to population-based cancer registry data. Control distributions were similar to population-based data on lifestyle factors and minor allele frequencies of over 500 SNPs, although smoking rates were slightly lower. Associations with NHL in the Mayo study for smoking, alcohol use, family history of lymphoma, autoimmune disease, asthma, eczema, body mass index, and single nucleotide polymorphisms in TNF (rs1800629), LTA (rs909253), and IL10 (rs1800896) were at a magnitude consistent with estimates from pooled studies in InterLymph, with history of any allergy the only directly discordant result in the Mayo study. These data suggest that this study should have strong internal and external validity. This framework may be useful to others who are designing a similar study.
Keywords: Case-control study; etiology; lymphoma; molecular epidemiology; validity.