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About OxCODE

The Oxford Centre for Early Cancer Detection (OxCODE), launched in 2019 under the directorship of Professor Xin Lu, is a multi-disciplinary community of Oxford-based researchers and clinicians with interests in cancer precision prevention and/or early cancer detection research.

OxCODE works under the umbrella of Oxford Cancer to coordinate the city's early cancer detection and precision prevention research.

What is precision cancer prevention?

  • Cancer prevention aims to reduce the chance of getting cancer.
  • Up to 40% of cancers can be prevented by modifying known risk factors for example, through changes to lifestyle or avoiding exposure to cancer-causing substances.
  • Precision cancer prevention targets preventative interventions to people with specific, biologically defined risk factors, such as people with high genetic risk of cancer. These interventions could include targeted drugs or preventative vaccines.

What is early detection?

  • Early detection is the detection of cancer at the earliest possible stage, when the disease is easiest to treat.
  • Early detection looks to identify those few people at risk of or with cancer within the larger population, and to assess the best possible actions for those people.
  • Cancers can be detected earlier through a number of approaches, including screening programmes across the population, surveillance of people with high-risk conditions and individual personal education to support early diagnosis of warning signs for potential cancer.

Why is our research important?

  • Preventing cancer will save lives and reduce the burden of treating cancer on people and healthcare systems. It may also lessen the emotional toll of living with a high-risk condition that increases the chances of getting cancer.
  • When cancer is found earlier, it can be easier to treat successfully – often requiring fewer complex and expensive treatments.
  • The chance of survival is higher for early-stage cancers but currently, nearly half of all cancers in England are diagnosed at an advanced stage.
  • Our research aims to give insights into early cancer biology to help identify cancers – or risk of cancer – earlier.
  • Accurate cancer risk prediction, new precisely targeted preventatives and earlier detection will allow more patients to benefit from precision cancer prevention or cancer treatments with fewer adverse side effects, and reduce the economic burden of advanced cancer.