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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

Professor Stephen Duffy


Centre Lead, Centre for Prevention, Detection and Diagnosis

Telephone: Tel: +44 (0) 20 7882 3535


I am a statistician by training, educated at the University of Edinburgh and Imperial College, London. I have worked in the UK, Singapore, France, Sweden and Russia.

In the past, much of my work was on randomised trials of cancer screening. These included the Swedish Two-County Trial of breast cancer screening, on which the UK's national breast screening programme was based, the UK Trial of Flexible Sigmoidoscopy, and the UK Lung Screening Trial. AS a result of the breast screening work, I have twice been awarded the Alexander Margulis Prize for Scientific Excellence by the Radiological Society of North America.

Since 2010 I have been director of the Policy Research Unit in Cancer Awareness, Screening and Early Diagnosis, which is a collaboration of primary care physicians, behavioural scientists, epidemiologists and statisticians in seven institutions. It researches interventions to promote diagnosis of cancer at an earlier stage by both screening and symptomatic routes.


Research Interests:

I am currently Director of the Policy Research Unit in Cancer Awareness, Screening and Early Diagnosis, funded by the Department of Health.

It is a collaboration between researchers from seven institutions (Queen Mary University of London, UCL, King's College London, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Hull York Medical School, the University of Leeds and Peninsula Medical School). The aim of the unit is to carry out research to inform policy to promote earlier diagnosis of cancer, symptomatically or by screening, and as a consequence bring down mortality from cancer.

In our strand of the Unit in Queen Mary University of London, our team concentrates on research aimed at evaluating cancer screening programmes, and devising innovations to these which will improve their effect on death from cancer, enhance their acceptability to the public and minimise side effects of screening, such as false positive rates. Topics researched include

  • Evaluation of artificial intelligence tools in screening and in symptomatic diagnosis of cancer in primary care
  • Evaluation of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes
  • Behavioural interventions to promote screening participation
  • Interventions to promote earlier presentation with potential cancer symptoms in primary care
  • The role of social media in cancer awareness, screening and early diagnosis
  • Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer screening and symptomatic diagnosis of cancer
  • Estimation of costs and benefits of various risk-based cancer screening regimens
  • Potential innovations to the bowel cancer screening programme, to better exploit faecal immunochemical testing


Please follow through for a complete list of Stephen's publication.

Allgood P, Maroni R, Hudson S, Offman J, Turnbull AE, Peacock L, Steel J, Kirby G, Ingram CE, Somers J, Fuller C, Threlfall AG, Gabe R, Maxwell AJ, Patnick J, Duffy SW. Effect of second timed appointments for non-attenders of breast cancer screening in England: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet Oncol 2017; 18: 972-80. 

Chapman D, Poirier V, Vulkan D, Fitzgerald K, Rubin G, Hamilton W, Duffy SW; ACE MDC projects. First results from five multidisciplinary diagnostic centre (MDC) projects for non-specific but concerning symptoms, possibly indicative of cancer. Br J Cancer. 2020; 123: 722-9. 

Duffy SW, Tabár L, Yen AM, et al. Beneficial Effect of Consecutive Screening Mammography Examinations on Mortality from Breast Cancer: A Prospective Study. Radiology 2021; 299: 541-547. 

Duffy SW, Vulkan D, Cuckle H, Parmar D, Sheikh S, Smith RA, Evans A, Blyuss O, Johns L, Ellis IO, Myles J, Sasieni PD, Moss SM. Effect of mammographic screening from age 40 years on breast cancer mortality (UK Age trial): final results of a randomised, controlled trial. Lancet Oncol. 2020; 21: 1165-72. 

Duffy SW, Dibden A, Michalopoulos D, Offman J, Parmar D, Jenkins J, Collins B, Robson T, Scorfield S, Green K, Hall C, Liao XH, Ryan M, Johnson F, Stevens G, Kearins O, Sellars S, Patnick J. Screen detection of ductal carcinoma in situ and subsequent incidence of invasive interval breast cancers: a retrospective population-based study. Lancet Oncol. 2016 Jan;17(1):109-14. 

Field JK, Vulkan D, Davies MPA, et al. Lung cancer mortality reduction by LDCT screening: UKLS randomised trial results and international meta-analysis. Lancet Reg Health Eur 2021 Sep 11;10:100179. 

Laake JP, Vulkan D, Quaife SL, et al. Targeted encouragement of GP consultations for possible cancer symptoms: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Gen Pract 2021 Apr 29;71(706):e339-e346. 

Maroni R, Massat NJ, Parmar D, Dibden A, Cuzick J, Sasieni PD, Duffy SW. A case-control study to evaluate the impact of the breast screening programme on mortality in England. Br J Cancer 2021; 124: 736-743. 

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