Donna Turner, PhD

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Donna Turner, PhD

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Research Discipline(s): Epidemiology, Health Services

Primary Title: Chief of Population Oncology

Additional Titles & Affiliations: Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences , University of Manitoba Researcher, CancerCare Manitoba Research Institute


Cancer Surveillance, Cancer Etiology, Cancer Prevention, Cancer Screening, Outcomes, Population Health, Health Services Research

How will we know if we are making a difference in the ‘war on cancer’ without cancer statistics? My research uses population-based cancer data to advance our understanding of cancer and cancer control* in human populations. It’s essential to understand the distribution of cancer in the population as well as the factors that influence those patterns if we want to advance. Measurement is key to achieving this – if we can’t measure it, we don’t know the size or shape of the problem, or to know if we are making improvements or falling behind. *Cancer control is everything we do to reduce the burden of cancer for entire populations: preventing cancer wherever possible, finding it early when we can’t prevent it, and treating or clinically managing it the best way possible.

Research Summary

Dr. Turner’s research interests revolve around the use of population-based cancer data as a means of informing cancer control activities. She works in various aspects of cancer control research – from prevention/etiology to early detection to diagnosis/treatment to outcomes – using the population-based data resources of the provincial health departments and the cancer clinics. As an epidemiologist, she has conducted many cancer epidemiology projects based on the Manitoba Cancer Registry and Manitoba Health’s linked administrative health care databases (such as medical claims, hospital discharge and drug prescription information files). She is the Scientific Director for The Manitoba Tomorrow Project – a long-term (50-year) cohort study of 10,000 Manitobans, that is collecting both data and biological specimens from participants to create the foundation for long-term population-based cancer prevention research. She is part of several national and international consortia, including the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership and Concord initiatives, which are looking at variations in international cancer survival and the reasons for the observed differences, and the network of Canadian cohort studies encompassed in the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health (CanPath).


The goal of Dr. Turner’s research is to maximize the use of population-based data and epidemiologic research methods to understand the impact of cancer on Manitobans. Her research also contributes to identifying and quantifying how cancer’s impact can be reduced in the population, including prevention, introduction of effective screening programs and assessing treatment in the real-world context. This involves statistical analysis to inform decisions, using various knowledge translation strategies and engagement of a wide variety of stakeholders, including physicians and other clinical staff, scientists, policy makers, program planners and the public, at a local, provincial, national and international level.

Research Biography

Academic History:

  • 2007-Present: Associate Professor, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, Rady College of Medicine, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
  • 2000-2007: Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
  • University of Manitoba, CIHR Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2000-2002, Health Research Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba; Epidemiology and Cancer Registry, CancerCare Manitoba
  • University of Manitoba, Medical Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1997-2000, Health Research Department of Community Health Sciences, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and Evaluation, University of Manitoba
  • University of Alberta, PhD (1997), Medical Sciences (Oncology)
  • University of Calgary, MSc (1991), Community Health Sciences: Epidemiology
  • University of Victoria, BSc, (1988), Health Information Science

Employment History:

  • 2022-Present: Chief of Population Oncology, CancerCare Manitoba
  • 2007-2022: Provincial Director Population Oncology, CancerCare Manitoba
  • 2005-2007: Manager, Epidemiology Unit, CancerCare Manitoba
  • 2003-2004: Acting Director, Epidemiology and Cancer Registry, CancerCare Manitoba
  • 1999-Present: Epidemiologist, Epidemiology and Cancer Registry, CancerCare Manitoba
  • 1991-1997: Research Associate, Division of Epidemiology, Prevention and Screening, Alberta Cancer Board


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    Featured Publications

    • Di Carlo V, Stiller CA, Eisemann N, Bordoni A, Matz M, Curado MP, Daubisse-Marliac L, Valkov M, Bulliard JL, Morrison D, Johnson C, Girardi F, Marcos-Gragera R, Šekerija M, Larønningen S, Sirri E, Coleman MP, Allemani C; CONCORD Working Group. Does the morphology of cutaneous melanoma help to explain the international differences in survival? Results from 1 578 482 adults diagnosed during 2000-2014 in 59 countries (CONCORD-3). Br J Dermatol. 2022 Sep;187(3):364-380. doi: 10.1111/bjd.21274. Epub 2022 Jul 28. PMID: 35347700
    • Menon U, Weller D, Zalounina Falborg A, Jensen H, Butler J, Barisic A, Kari Knudsen A, Bergin R, Brewster D, Cairnduff V, Ourania Fourkala E, Gavin A, Grunfeld E, Harland E, Kalsi J, Law RJ, Lin Y, Turner D, Neal RD, White V, Harrison S, Reguilon I, Lynch C, Vedsted P, & ICBP Module 4 Working Group. Diagnostic routes and time intervals for ovarian cancer in nine international jurisdictions; findings from the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership (ICBP). Br J Cancer 127, 844–854 (2022)., May 26, 2022
    • Brenner DR, Poirier A, Woods RR, Ellison LF, Billette JM, Demers AA, Zhang SX, Yao C, Finley C, Fitzgerald N, Saint-Jacques N, Shack L, Turner D, Holmes E; Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee. Projected estimates of cancer in Canada in 2022. CMAJ. 2022 May 2;194(17):E601-E607. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.212097. PMID: 35500919
    • Decker K, Feely A, Bucher O, Singh H, Turner D, Lambert P. Evaluating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer screening in a central Canadian province. Preventive Medicine, Volume 155, February 2022. PMID: 35065173
    • Longo CJ, Fitch MI, Loree JM, Carlson LE, Turner D, Cheung WY, Gopaul D, Ellis J, Ringash J, Mathews M, Wright J, Stevens C, D'Souza D, Urquhart R, Maity T, Balderrama F, Haddad E. Patient and family financial burden associated with cancer treatment in Canada: a national study. Support Care Cancer. 2021 Jun;29(6):3377-3386. doi: 10.1007/s00520-020-05907-x. Epub 2021 Jan 5. PMID: 33403399
    • Decker K, Lambert P, Demers A, Kliewer E, Musto G, Biswanger N, Elias B, Turner D. Examining the Impact of First Nations Status on the Relationship Between Diabetes and Cancer. Health Equity.;4(1):211-217. doi:10.1089/heq.2019.0121. eCollection 2020. PMID: 32440618, May 18, 2020
    • Brenner DR, Weir HK, Demers AA, Ellison LF, Louzado C, Shaw A, Turner D, Woods RR, Smith LM; Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee. Projected estimates of cancer in Canada in 2020. CMAJ. 2020 Mar 2;192(9):E199-E205. doi: 10.1503/ cmaj.191292. PMID: 32122974 Epub Mar 2, 2020
    • Arnold M, Rutherford MJ, Bardot A, Ferlay J, Andersson TML, Myklebust T, Tervonen H, Thursfield V, Ransom D, Shack L, Woods RR, Turner D, Leonfellner S, Ryan S, Saint-Jacques N, De P, McClure C, Agnihotram V Ramanakumar, Stuart-Panko H, Engholm G, Walsh PM, Jackson C, Vernon S, Morgan E, Gavin A, Morrison DS, Huws DW, Porter G, Butler J, Bryant H, Currow DC, Sara Hiom, Parkin DM, Sasieni P, Lambert P, Møller B, Soerjomataram I, Bray F. Progress in cancer survival, mortality, and incidence in seven high-income countries 1995–2014 (ICBP SURVMARK-2): a population-based study. Lancet Oncol. 2019 Nov;20(11):1493-1505. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(19)30456-5. Epub. PMID: 31521509. Sept. 11, 2019

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