MARIE and its follow-up studies


The MARIE studies are epidemiological studies on breast cancer. The first MARIE study began almost 20 years ago with collecting health-related information from over 11,000 women with and without breast cancer from the Rhine-Neckar-Karlsruhe and Hamburg regions in order to identify risk factors for the development of breast cancer and prognostic factors for the progression of the disease after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the most common cause of cancer death in women in Germany. The incidence rate has increased over the past decades, with the mortality rate falling since the mid-1990s. This means that the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer is increasing, but they survive longer once they are diagnosed. While a number of risk factors for breast cancer are known, the diagnostic, therapeutic, clinical, and genetic factors that determine recurrence or death from the disease are less explored.

In order to be able to answer these questions, breast cancer patients in the MARIE study participated in two follow-up telephone interviews approximately 5 years apart and provided a blood sample. In addition, therapeutic data was collected, and the doctors and clinics involved were asked about the recurrence of breast cancer (MARIEplus- and MARIEplus2 Studies). Women without breast cancer, who acted as a comparison group were also followed-up twice and completed two mail-in follow-up questionnaires (MARIEII- and MARIEIII Studies). In 2020, a third follow-up survey of all participants took place MARIEplus3 Study).
From the information provided by the participants, a clinical-epidemiological database of postmenopausal women was built up in the context of these studies, which offers the possibility to investigate long-term survival as well as cause-specific survival and quality of life over a period of more than 10 years. The data also feed into larger databases that make up international consortia.

The MARIE studies have been carried out since 2002 under the joint management of the Institute for Medical Biometry and Epidemiology at the University Medical Center, Hamburg-Eppendorf and the Department of Cancer Epidemiology at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. The joint direction of the studies is with Prof. Dr. Jenny Chang-Claude and Prof. Dr. Dieter Flesch-Janys (until 2018) and Prof. Dr. Heiko Becher (since 2019).


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