Program in Global Oncology

There is a growing recognition of the important role that infections play in causing cancer. Infections have been identified as contributing factors in lymphoma, sarcoma, liver cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer and stomach cancer. Twenty percent of all cancers worldwide are believed to be caused by infections; in Uganda, six of 10 of the most common cancers are due to infectious diseases.

Because of its tremendous burden of infection-related cancers, Uganda offers a unique setting to study the impact of infections on the development and clinical course of several cancers. By working closely with Ugandan researchers and oncologists, Center researchers hope to expand their knowledge of infection-related cancers and improve cancer care in Uganda and at home.

Researchers hope to answer a number of key questions: How are cancer-causing infections transmitted and acquired? What factors govern the progression from chronic infection to cancer? Can the progression to cancer be predicted? Which therapies can be employed to prevent infection-related cancers?

In 2004, Dr. Corey Casper of Fred Hutch initiated a collaboration with the then director of the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) to develop effective prevention and treatment strategies for infection-associated cancers.  This collaboration became known as the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance. Working now in partnership with the current UCI director Dr. Jackson Orem, the Alliance works to  benefit the millions of people in Uganda, the United States and worldwide who suffer from malignancies such as Burkitt lymphoma and Kaposi sarcoma.

UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance has developed a three-pronged approach for addressing the needs of cancer patients in Uganda:

  • Conduct advanced research in infection-related cancers to better understand the pathogenesis of these diseases so we can develop and test more effective, efficacious and safer treatment and prevention regimens;
  • Improve clinical capacity through the provision of medical support and revised clinical protocols for those with infectious cancers;
  • Train clinicians and support staff to enhance local human capacity that can sustain the research and clinical care activities at the site.