Associate Professor Carolyn Nickson 

Breast Group Lead


An epidemiologist specialising in the evaluation of breast cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment, A/Professor Carolyn Nickson leads the Breast Cancer Group. Key areas of her research include population clinical and health economics modelling of breast cancer early detection services, the development of parsimonious and effective personalised risk models for breast cancer, and using mammographic density as a tool for optimising breast screening tests.


  • PhD, University of Melbourne
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Melbourne
  • Bachelor of Arts (Mathematics and Philosophy), La Trobe University.


  • Hopper J, Schmidt D, Nickson C, Makalic E, Nguyen TL, Mann GB, Frazer H, Dugue P, Dite G, Evans J. 2010- 2018, NHMRC Project Grant. Improved and automated measures of breast cancer  risk based on digital mammography and family history data collected by BreastScreen that will enable tailored screening for breast cancer ($730,947)
  • Nickson C, Canfell K, Barendregt J, Petrie D, Mann B, Brennan P. 2014-2018, Cancer Australia PdCCRS Priority driven Standard Project Grant (fully funded by Cancer Australia).  Maximising benefits and minimising harms in the BreastScreen program: a population health economics modelling approach ($596,793)
  •  Campbell I, James P, Mann B, Nickson C. 2015-2018, Cancer Australia PdCCRS Priority-driven Standard Project Grant (Cancer Australia and the National Breast Cancer Foundation). Improving population based mammographic screening ($600,000)
  • Campbell I, Hopper J, Fox S, Pridmore V, Nickson C, James P, Lee W, Mishra G, Carlson L, Fashid G, Stone J. 2015-2019, National Breast Cancer Foundation. Infrastructure funding for lifepool cohort ($1,250,000)
  •  English D, Kavanagh A, Nickson C, Roder D. 2014-2018, NHMRC Project Grant 1061375. Risks and benefits of breast cancer screening: BreastScreen WA cohort study of overdiagnosis and breast cancer mortality. ($196,516)

Academic affiliations

  • Honorary Fellow, Macquarie University
  • Adjunct Lecturer, The University of Sydney

Current student supervision

Dr Hannah Bromley, University of Melbourne and University of Birmingham (joint PhD program), Identifying the utilities and disutilities associated with the overdiagnosis and overtreatment of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast for use in the economic evaluation of breast screening programs.

A/Professor Nickson is available to supervise PhD students enrolled at the University of Melbourne

Selected key publications

Pattanasri M, Elder K, Nickson C, Cooke S, Machalek D, Rose A, Mou A, Collins JP, Park A, De Boer R, Phillips C, Pridmore V, Farrugia H, Mann GB. Uptake of adjuvant breast cancer treatments recommended by multi-disciplinary meetings. ANZ J Surg. 2018 Jan 23. doi: 10.1111/ans.14368. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29363225.

Nickson C, Mason KE, Kavanagh AM. Breast cancer screening of women aged 70-74 years: results from a natural experiment across Australia. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2014 Jan;143(2):367-72.

Nickson C, Arzhaeva Y, Aitken Z, Elgindy T, Buckley M, Li M, English DR, Kavanagh AM. AutoDensity: An automated method to measure mammographic breast density that predicts breast cancer risk and screening outcomes. Breast Cancer Research 2013, 15:R80

Nickson C, Mason K, English DR, Kavanagh AM. Mammographic screening and breast cancer mortality: A case-control study and meta-analysis. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention. 2012 Sep;21(9):1479-88.

Nickson C. and Kavanagh AM, Tumour size at detection according to different measures of mammographic breast density. J Med Screen, 2009. 16(3): p. 140-6.