Collaborative programmes

The Cancer Registry conducts active research collaboration with both domestic and foreign partners.


TOwards imProved screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer In All of EUrope

The EU TOPIA project is intended to provide information on screening of breast, cervical and intestinal cancer across the EU. The research target is the optimum implementation and scope of screenings, their benefits, their disadvantages and their cost-effectiveness. The task of Finland in the EU-TOPIA project is to define the parameters of benefits and disadvantages, to define socio-economic and equality dimensions of screening and to participate in the validation of modelling for three main screenings. The information collected through the EU-TOPIA project will also develop MISCAN software, which is appropriate for life-time evaluation by improving the input parameters and conversion variables used in the modeling.
As part of the EU-TOPIA project research (Lifelong benefits and disadvantages of breast cancer screening), the benefits and benefits of breast cancer screening in Finland are being investigated. The study has two approaches, transverse and longitudinal. The main approach is to look at lifelong cumulative effects instead of previous transversal views. The purpose is to find out the long-term (cumulative) benefits and disadvantages of screening taking into account the use of other health services.

Research protocol, summary:

Project presentation:

Top 3 publications:

Lead researcher: Ahti Anttila

Research team: Milla Lehtinen, Sirpa Heinävaara, Tytti Sarkeala, Nea Malila, Suvi Mäklin, Maiju Pankakoski, Petra Makkonen, Sanni Helander

Funding: EU:n Horisontti 2020 programme

Collaborating institutions: Erasmus University Medical Center (NL), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK), CPO Piemonte (IT), Institute of Oncology Ljubljana (SI), National Institute for Health Development (EE), Syreon Institute (HU), Auria Biopankki?


Cancer genetics research systematically maps groups of patients with possible hereditary cancer susceptibility based on the locality and surname of cancer patients. Those selected for further study are the most interesting types of cancer patients whose cancer information will be used as a basis for constructing genes describing the inheritance of cancer phenotypes and assisting in the examination of clinical features of cancer patients and the acquisition of samples. The aim of the study is to identify molecular genetic changes in hereditary cancers.
The research project is part of the the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Cancer Genetics Research led by Professor Lauri Aaltonen and funded by the Academy of Finland. The unit consists of research teams under Lauri Aaltonen (Helsinki University), Eero Pukkala (Finnish Cancer Registry), Sampsa Hautaniemi (Helsinki University), Jussi Taipale (Helsinki University) and Veli Mäkinen (Helsinki University).

Research team: Eero Pukkala, Sanna Heikkinen, Janne Pitkäniemi, Matti Rantanen (Finnish Cancer Registry)

Funding: Academy of Finland

Collaborating institution:  University of Helsinki

Lead researcher: Eero Pukkala


The aim of the Nordscreen project is to develop an openly available web-based tool to look at the development of cancer screening indicators across the Nordic countries and Estonia. The development of comparable screening indicators and public reporting support the improvement of the quality of screening programmes.
Nordic screening programs differ from one another and direct comparison between them is difficult without uniformly defined indicators. The process and performance indicators to be developed are based on international research projects and recommendations. Individual-level screening data based on indicators are collected from national mass screening registries that are comprehensivly comparable internationally and of high quality.
The project started in the spring 2016 and runs until the end of 2018. It focuses primarily on cervical cancer screening programmes, but, as far as possible, is being extended to include breast and colorectal cancer screening programs.

Research protocol: NORDSCREEN (pdf)

Research team: Ahti Anttila, Veli-Matti Partanen, Maiju Pankakoski, Tytti Sarkeala, Sirpa Heinävaara, Stefan Lönnberg

Funding: Nordic Information for Action e-Science Center (NIASC) / Nordforsk

Collaborating institutions:  Karolinska Institute (Sweden), Norwegian Cancer Registry, Iceland Cancer Registry, Danish Cervical Cancer Screening Registry, Estonian National Institute of Health

Lead researcher: Ahti Anttila


Overdiagnosis refers to cancers that would not be detected without screening. Estimates of the magnitude of overdiagnosis in European breast cancer screening programs vary greatly depending on the method (0-50%).
Umeå University has developed a new approach to assessing overdiagnosis. This so-called multi-platelet model has already been applied to Swedish registry data with promising results. The best part of the multipurpose model is that overdiagnostic evaluation does not require an anticipated incidence of breast cancer without screening.
Researchers at the University of Umeå need a number of breast cancer registration evidence to validate the model. In Finland, all women in the target age group have been invited for breast cancer screening since the 1980s, and so the number of breast cancers in women in the general population without screening is difficult to assess. The use of Finnish registry data modeling studies also benefit us, because through research we can estimate the magnitude of overdiagnosis in breast cancer screening in the current target age range of women between the ages of 50 and 69 years.
The collaborative project started in 2016. During 2017 research authorisation is being sought for the Finnish data, after which the necessary data will be modified and submitted for use by Umeå University researchers.

Research team: Tytti Sarkeala, Sirpa Heinävaara

Funding: Cancer Society of Finland

Yhteistyötahot:  Umeå University (lead researchers Håkan Jonsson, Wendy Yi-Ying Wu, Lennart Nyström), the Norwegian Cancer Registry (Solveig Hofvind), University of Copenhagen (Søren Nymand Lophaven), Stockholm-Gotland Regional Cancer Registry (Sven Törnberg)

Lead researcher: Tytti Sarkeala


The project consists of several separate projects. The following projects are currently underway:

• Hidden structures in the prevalence of cancer. The project uses the Invariant Coordinate Selection (ICS) time series for the incidence of cancer and compares the functionality of the method with the traditional Principal Components Analysis (PCA). The article written on the project is designed to be part of the doctoral dissertation of Niko Lietza, a doctoral student at Aalto University. The project is under the responsibility of Janne and Sirpa at the Finnish Cancer Registry.

• Overdiagnosis of breast cancer in women aged 50-69 years. We will develop an alternative assessment method for evaluating breast overdiagnostics with Matias Heikkilä, a postgraduate student at Aalto University. The project is under the responsibility of Sirpa and Tytti at the Finnish Cancer Registry.

Research team: Sirpa Heinävaara, Tytti Sarkeala

Funding: Cancer Society of Finland

Collaboration with Aalto University started in 2015.

Collaborating institution: Aalto University (Pauliina Ilmonen, Niko Lietzen, Matias Heikkilä)

Lead researcher: Janne Pitkäniemi