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Division of Cancer Epidemiology

Prof. Dr. Rudolf Kaaks


Our division studies the causes of cancer in population groups with the aim of identifying and, if possible, avoiding risk factors so as to prevent cancer. Our key focus is on the quantification of risks associated with lifestyle, nutrition and metabolism, and immune factors. In addition, we address the question of how lifestyle may interact with genetic susceptibility factors in cancer development, as well as in cancer survival.

On the basis of established, genetic and non-genetic risk factors, we build quantitative risk models for the identification of individuals who have an increased risk of developing cancer compared to others, and who may gain increased benefit from targeted prevention measures such as regular cancer screening.

A further focus is exploring new routes for prevention and early diagnosis of cancer, as well as quality control of introduced measures. Due to their population-related approach, statistical methods and their further development are of particularly high relevance in epidemiology.

A major part of our research takes place within the setting of large-scale prospective cohort studies, such as the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) and the Scandinavian Consortium of Maternity Cohorts. Besides these prospective studies in the general population, our division conducts studies within large cohorts of cancer patients.

Studies within our various prospective cohorts are increasingly making use of modern, high-throughput “omics” technologies (metabolomics, genomics, epigenomics, next-generation sequencing) for the identification of risk factors and predictors for cancer and markers for early detection.
For future studies, our division has a central role in the development and set-up of the “NAKO” – a new, large-scale prospective cohort study in Germany.


Prof. Dr. Rudolf Kaaks
Cancer Epidemiology (C020)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 6221 42 2200
Fax: +49 6221 42 2203

Selected Publications

  • Serum markers of biological ageing provide long-term prediction of life expectancy-a longitudinal analysis in middle-aged and older German adults. Srour B, Hynes LC, Johnson T, Kühn T, Katzke VA, Kaaks R. Age Ageing. 2022 Feb 2;51(2):afab271. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afab271. PMID: 35150586
  • Lung cancer mortality reduction by LDCT screening-Results from the randomized German LUSI trial. Becker N, Motsch E, Trotter A, Heussel CP, Dienemann H, Schnabel PA, Kauczor HU, Maldonado SG, Miller AB, Kaaks R, Delorme S. Int J Cancer. 2020 Mar 15;146(6):1503-1513. doi: 10.1002/ijc.32486. Epub 2019 Jun 20. PMID: 31162856 Clinical Trial.
  • Evaluation of Prediction Models for Identifying Malignancy in Pulmonary Nodules Detected via Low-Dose Computed Tomography. González Maldonado S, Delorme S, Hüsing A, Motsch E, Kauczor HU, Heussel CP, Kaaks R. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Feb 5;3(2):e1921221. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.21221. PMID: 32058555
  • Circulating Immune Cell Composition and Cancer Risk: A Prospective Study Using Epigenetic Cell Count Measures. Le Cornet C, Schildknecht K, Rossello Chornet A, Fortner RT, González Maldonado S, Katzke VA, Kühn T, Johnson T, Olek S, Kaaks R. Cancer Res. 2020 May 1;80(9):1885-1892. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-3178. Epub 2020 Feb 19. PMID: 32075798
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