How does cancer research in the laboratory lead to improved patient care? Find out how cancer research works and the steps involved in bringing discoveries in the laboratory into routine clinical practice.
From the laboratory to medical care
Cancer research works when discoveries made in the laboratory are successfully translated into the clinic, leading to improved medical care. In reality, it often takes many attempts to bring about improved treatments and patient care.
While every discovery increases our knowledge of cancer, not all discoveries will lead to a new drug, a new diagnostic test or a better way of treating cancer. In some ways, cancer research is like an enormous jigsaw puzzle, with research teams around the world all contributing to different pieces of knowledge. Over time, and after much trial and error, a clearer picture emerges about how cancers develop, grow and resist treatments.
It is important for researchers to find out why some promising discoveries fail to work in animal models or in clinical trials, as this information forms the basis of the next research study. This is why information from clinical trials must also be translated back to the laboratory.
Another important tool in cancer research is the study of population-based research. This research is known as epidemiology and involves the study of incidence, risk and patterns of disease within a population.