Let’s meet: Karri Seppä (Research at the Finnish Cancer Registry)

Karri Seppä, a research fellow at the Finnish Cancer Registry

By: Karri Seppä

The Finnish Cancer Registry maintains the national registry of all the diagnosed cancer cases since 1953. It is also a statistical and epidemiological research institute that does active collaboration both nationally and internationally. Research fellow, Karri Seppä, tells his story about joining the FCR, and what impact his work may have on the future.

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Who are you?

I’m Karri Seppä and I work as a research fellow at the Finnish Cancer Registry.

How did you end up doing research at the Cancer Registry?

I studied statistics and my supervisor suggested a couple of different topics for my Master’s thesis. I ended up choosing estimation of cancer survival – and more specifically how to statistically estimate the cure fraction of cancer patients. After that, I got in to the Cancer Registry to do a statistics internship and later a PhD dissertation.

What do you study now?

I study and develop statistical methods, which we can use to assess survival of cancer patients and prognostic factors of survival.

What effects/impact do you think your study results will have?

I hope they are useful in assessing how the national health care system works, especially in cancer care in different population groups: e.g. is access to health care and treatment equal in different regions of the country?

The methods I have developed can also be utilized for population-based registry studies all around the world.

I have also made predictions on the future number of cancer cases in Finland. These have been used to estimate the need for health care resources in the future, e.g. when planning for new hospitals.

What do you think is the best thing about working at the Cancer Registry?

To get to investigate data with new statistical methods, when it is possible to find something essential that wasn’t possible to be detected with earlier, cruder methods. Here I can combine statistical knowledge with cancer epidemiological research. It is also extremely interesting to follow other researchers’ study projects and their progress.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to study what is the impact of patients’ other diseases on cancer survival. I think it is an important topic, because cancer patients are on average very old and many have other underlying illnesses. The importance of other diseases on cancer survival will be even more emphasized in the future, as the number of old cancer patients will increase markedly.

What readings would you recommend from your field?

I recommend you take a look at the Cancer in Finland-publication. It covers a diverse selection of articles about cancer.

Karri Seppä