Remarkable progress has been made in the last decade in new methods for biologic measurements using sophisticated technologies that go beyond the established genome, proteome, and gene expression platforms. These methods and technologies create opportunities to enhance cancer epidemiologic studies. In this article, we describe several emerging technologies and evaluate their potential in epidemiologic studies. We review the background, assays, methods, and challenges and offer examples of the use of mitochondrial DNA and copy number assessments, epigenomic profiling (including methylation, histone modification, miRNAs, and chromatin condensation), metabolite profiling (metabolomics), and telomere measurements. We map the volume of literature referring to each one of these measurement tools and the extent to which efforts have been made at knowledge integration (e.g., systematic reviews and meta-analyses). We also clarify strengths and weaknesses of the existing platforms and the range of type of samples that can be tested with each of them. These measurement tools can be used in identifying at-risk populations and providing novel markers of survival and treatment response. Rigorous analytic and validation standards, transparent availability of massive data, and integration in large-scale evidence are essential in fulfilling the potential of these technologies.
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