Introduction to Cancer Research

This section provides information on the following topics:

Understanding the Publication and Format of Cancer Research Studies

Publishing research studies is the primary way scientific professionals use to communicate their findings. They may publish original research or write a review article, which evaluates the existing body of published research on a particular topic. Well-designed research studies can help answer important questions about the biology of cancer, investigate new treatments, and identify areas for further study.

Understanding Cancer Research Study Design and How to Evaluate Results

Doctors and scientists conduct research studies to discover more about the biology of cancer, investigate new treatments and diagnostic tests, and learn how to prevent the disease. Depending on the questions they want to answer, researchers can design these studies in a number of ways. No study design is perfect; each has strengths and drawbacks. Therefore, it is important to understand a study's design so you can evaluate the results and know if they apply to your situation.

Drug Discovery and Development

Doctors and scientists are always looking for better ways to treat people with cancer. To do this, they are constantly developing and studying new drugs, as well as looking for new ways to use existing drugs.

Drug Approval and Labeling

Drug development and approval is often lengthy. For many doctors and patients, the development and approval of new cancer treatments is not fast enough. The FDA is working to speed up this process in several ways.

Explaining Cancer Genome Research

A growing area of cancer research, called cancer genome research, compares genes found in tumors and genes found in healthy tissue in order to understand how these genes differ and which ones are important. To do this, researchers collect samples from all types of tumors to find out a tumor’s genetic “fingerprint” and then compare it to the fingerprints of healthy tissue from the same person. Different genes are involved in different tumor types, and understanding what genes are important to the development of cancer may lead to improvements in detecting, diagnosing, and treating cancer.

Medical News: How to Know If It's Accurate

Medical news can change often; one week, a new "breakthrough" is discovered, only to be disputed the next week. As a result, it is difficult to know what news to believe and whether a person should change a practice or specific habit. Finding answers to the following questions may help you better evaluate medical news.

Evaluating Cancer Information on the Internet

The Internet is a useful tool for finding information about cancer and connecting with other patients and caregivers. However, it can be difficult to find credible, reliable information about cancer causes, risk factors, treatment, and recovery. Because Internet content is not regulated, you need to use good judgment when searching online.

The Patient Advocate's Role in Cancer Research

Cancer clinical trials have led to scientific advances in the prevention, care, and treatment of people with cancer. This knowledge could not have been attained without the participation of patients and their doctors. To understand how patient advocates help advance cancer research, Cancer.Net welcomes George W. Sledge Jr., MD, the 2010-2011 President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and Mary Lou Smith, a longtime patient advocate. Dr. Sledge and Ms. Smith have worked together for many years, primarily through the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, a clinical cancer research organization.

Journals and Magazines

Links to leading oncology and general medicine scientific journals, as well as consumer magazines that offer current information on detecting, treating, and coping with cancer.