Research Areas

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Making sustained progress against cancer requires advances across the research continuum, from the biology of cancer cells to studies of large populations. Learn about the breadth of NCI’s work and the programs the institute supports to advance cancer research.

Cancer Biology

Studying the differences between normal cells and cancer cells is critical to progress against the disease.

Cancer Genomics

Investigating the genetic foundations of cancer has improved our understanding of cancer biology and led to new methods of diagnosing and treating the disease.

Causes of Cancer

Understanding the exposures and risk factors that cause cancer, as well as the genetic abnormalities associated with the disease, has helped us to reduce certain exposures and to ameliorate their harmful effects.


Accurate information derived from diagnostic tools is crucial for making decisions at all stages of cancer care. NCI supports research on the development of tests and imaging technologies that can provide specific information about an individual’s cancer.

Prevention Research

NCI-supported scientists are studying cancer risk, the biology of how cancer develops, ways to disseminate prevention interventions, and more.

Screening and Early Detection

NCI supports and directs research on screening and the early detection of cancer, including studies to develop and validate biological markers.

Cancer Treatment Research

NCI is leading efforts on several fronts to develop and evaluate new cancer treatments.

Cancer and Public Health

Studying cancer and its burden on a population-wide scale can provide information that directly affects the health of millions of people.

Cancer Health Disparities Research

NCI is working to understand and address cancer health disparities, such as the higher cancer death rates, less frequent use of proven screening tests, and higher rates of advanced cancer diagnoses among certain populations as compared with others.

Childhood Cancers Research

NCI has an extensive research portfolio that relates, directly or indirectly, to childhood and adolescent cancers—from basic science to clinical research on new treatments—all aimed at providing the best care for childhood cancer patients and survivors.

Clinical Trials and NCI

Clinical trials are essential for moving methods of preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer from the laboratory to physicians and other clinical settings. NCI continues to focus on building a clinical trials enterprise that is a national resource.

The Global Burden of Cancer

NCI is committed to supporting international programs and partnerships that drive progress against cancer worldwide.