Grayson Thompson - Undergraduate Researcher (Vandy Class of 2018)

Correlating intravenous drug abuse with hepatocellular carcinoma in electronic medical records.


Hometown -  Greensboro, NC

Major in Medicine, Health and Society

Pre-medical student, Vanderbilt University College of Arts & Sciences



The well established links between intravenous drug use and hepatitis C infection are matched by the equally strong connection between hepatitis C and hepatocellular carcinoma. Although this seemingly obvious transitive relationship could not have gone unnoticed, we have failed to find a definitive study in the literature that correlates intravenous drug use to hepatocellular carcinoma. A large body of literature explores the connection between drugs and cancer, but these studies mainly focus on anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or marijuana) connected to a very broad range of cancers. Here, we propose to correlate intravenous drug use to hepatocellular carcinoma, as shown by a comorbidity of intravenous drug addiction and cancer/pre-cancer diagnosis, using the de-identified electronic medical record synthetic derivative of Bio-VU. 


We hypothesize that the causative links between intravenous drug use and hepatitis C, and from hepatitis C to hepatocellular carcinoma, will reveal a strong correlation between intravenous drug use and hepatocellular carcinoma. Establishing this correlation as a risk factor for the development of liver cancer may provide counselors, community leaders, primary caregivers and media with more approaches to dissuade drug abuse, in a similar vein to tactics of successful anti-smoking campaigns. The continued rise of hepatocellular carcinoma incidence within underserved populations and U.S. racial minorities underscores the impact this new risk factor might have on these particularly vulnerable populations.