USC Department of Preventive Medicine Awarded $23.5 Million in Fourth Cycle of Funding for Epidemiological Cancer Research

Photo: Dennis Deapen, DrP.H., director, USC Cancer Surveillance Program



Epidemiological cancer surveillance research at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) has won $23.5 million in federal funding as part of the ongoing National Cancer Institute (NCI) national cancer statistics program.

The award continues funding that the USC Department of Preventive Medicine has been receiving since 1992. The funding supports the USC Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance program, established in 1970 by Brian Henderson, M.D., to conduct epidemiological research on cancer, said Dennis Deapen, director of the Cancer Surveillance program. 

“When the California Department of Health Services made statewide cancer reporting mandatory in 1988, the USC Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program was designated their agent for L.A. County,” Deapen said. “In 1992, the NCI wanted to establish a cancer registry with greater numbers of Hispanic cancer patients, and we said, ‘Here we are.’” The NCI’s national cancer registry includes all ethnic groups, age groups and genders in selected geographic areas. 

The data collected by the USC L.A. Cancer Surveillance Program is added into the NCI’s Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program, a source of information on cancer incidence, mortality and survival in the United States. This is the fourth cycle of funding won by the USC Department of Preventive Medicine from NCI, Deapen said.


The $23.5 million award will help the USC Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program in its mission – to identify every new cancer case in the county, receive a standard report on each case and monitor each case in terms of survivorship.

The data maintained by the program is often the basis for future NCI research projects studying ethnic, gender and other differentiating factors in cancer. Investigators researching survival or other rates of a certain cancer among different ethnicities would turn to the USC surveillance program for data.

“Because of new research projects that are added on, the amount of total funding is expected to roughly double over the next seven year period,” Deapen said.

More than 1,800 research papers using data from the Cancer Surveillance program have been published in medical journals, with 348 being published in just the last year, Deapen said.

SEER currently collects and publishes cancer incidence, mortality and survival data from population-based cancer registries covering approximately 26 percent of the US population. The SEER Program registries routinely collect data on patient demographics, primary tumor site, tumor morphology and stage at diagnosis, first course of treatment, and follow-up for vital status. 

The SEER Program is the only comprehensive source of population-based information in the United States that includes stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis and patient survival data. Updated annually and provided as a public service in print and electronic formats, SEER data are used by thousands of researchers, clinicians, public health officials, legislators, policymakers, community groups, and the public.

For information on the USC Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance program, go to

For information on SEER, go to


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