What processes make up cancer research?

Cancer research includes many different areas of interest. Most discoveries start in labs where scientists do basic or fundamental research into the human body. These scientists might or might not be testing for a specific hypothesis as they try to understand how the body works, including on a cellular level.

These discoveries can be used in other developmental research for specific diseases. This is a part of research where scientists will perform lab tests on new compounds and drugs that they might find useful in treating diseases.

While there are many compounds to explore at the beginning of a research project, few of these will make it on to the next stages of testing. From here scientists’ work can be referred to as preclinical. They will test a drug both in test tubes and in living organisms before they move on to clinical trials.

Clinical trials are when human patients are brought in to test the drug for safety, dosage and efficiency.

These trials are performed in stages or phases, and the percentage of drugs that make it through each stage becomes smaller and smaller. Even after a drug is approved, there will be continued studies on it for many years to evaluate long-term effectiveness and side effects.

For more information contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge at (225) 927-2273, cbritton@cancerservices.org, or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Avenue.

Internet Resources:

FDA – Learn about Drug and Device Approval


NCI - Taking Part in Cancer Treatment Research Studies


This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.