Enhancing the Infrastructure of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study for Cancer Epidemiology Research: ARIC Cancer

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2018 Mar;27(3):295-305. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-17-0696. Epub 2017 Dec 20.


Background: We describe the expansion of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study into a cancer cohort. In 1987 to 1989, ARIC recruited 15,792 participants 45 to 64 years old to be sex (55% female), race (27% black), and geographically diverse. ARIC has exceptional data collected during 6 clinical visits and calls every 6 months, repeated biospecimens, and linkage to Medicare claims data.Methods: We established a Cancer Coordinating Center to implement infrastructure activities, convened a Working Group for data use, leveraged ARIC staff and procedures, and developed protocols. We initiated a cancer-specific participant contact, added questions to existing contacts, obtained permission to collect medical records and tissue, abstracted records, linked with state cancer registries, and adjudicated cases and characterizing data.Results: Through 2012, we ascertained and characterized 4,743 incident invasive, first, and subsequent primary cancers among 4,107 participants and 1,660 cancer-related deaths. We generated a total cancer incidence and mortality analytic case file, and analytic case files for bladder, breast, colorectal, liver, lung, pancreas, and prostate cancer incidence, mortality, and case fatality. Adjudication of multiple data sources improved case records and identified cancers not identified via registries. From 2013 onward, we ascertain cases from self-report coupled with medical records. Additional cancer registry linkages are planned.Conclusions: Compared with starting a new cohort, expanding a cardiovascular cohort into ARIC Cancer was an efficient strategy. Our efforts yielded enhanced case files with 25 years of follow-up.Impact: Now that the cancer infrastructure is established, ARIC is contributing its unique features to modern cancer epidemiology research. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 27(3); 295-305. ©2017 AACR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Epidemiological Monitoring*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology