Cancer Foundation Finland Prize awarded to Professor Aleyamma Mathew

The Cancer Foundation Finland Prize is aimed at encouraging population-based cancer registration and at advancing research in the field in India.

This year’s Cancer Foundation Finland Prize is awarded to Professor Aleyamma Mathew from India. The Prize is a research grant of 5,000 euros.

Recognition for cooperation between Cancer Society of Finland and India

The Prize is based on the continuation of a long-standing cooperation between the Cancer Society of Finland, Cancer Foundation Finland, Tampere University and the cancer registries of India. The cooperation was initiated in the 1980s. The aim of the collaboration has been to train cancer epidemiologists to work in conditions that developing countries face. The Prize contributes to maintaining and consolidating the links between Finland and India that have been built up over decades.

The first Cancer Foundation Finland Prize was awarded in 2018 to Professor Rajesh Dikshit from India.

The Prize is awarded for the general development of cancer registries or based on specific epidemiological research accomplishments.

A major player in developing Indian cancer registries

Professor Mathew has had an active role in developing India’s cancer registry network for the past 30 years. She has been a cancer epidemiologist at the Asian Pacific Organisation for Cancer Prevention as well as a visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States. Mathew obtained her doctorate in Finland with support from the Cancer Society of Finland.

In a scientific article published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Mathew makes use of registration data on cancer incidence spanning a 40-year period. She compares cancer-specific incidence rates with changes in known risk factors such as smoking and obesity during corresponding periods from the 1980s to the early 2010s. The study shows that the number of new cancer cases increased from 3.5 million to 7 million during the period considered.

-In the article, Professor Mathew successfully combines her own long experience of developing the cancer registry of Thiruvananthapuram in the Indian state of Kerala with assessing the cancer burden of India as a whole. She combines data from India’s cancer registries and provides a cancer-specific comparison of changes in incidence with changes in risk factors,” explains Janne Pitkäniemi, Professor of Cancer Epidemiology at Tampere University and Director of Statistics at the Finnish Cancer Registry.

-Estimating India’s cancer burden is of key importance globally due to an ageing and rapidly growing population. Her work will contribute to better targeted cancer prevention measures, Pitkäniemi says.

Professor Mathew is Head of Division at the Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, India. Scientists at the Centre have published more than 500 scientific articles. This is a significant accomplishment.