What is cancer research?


What is cancer research

Research can help reduce the impact of cancer in many ways, so Cancer Council invests in every stage of the cancer journey to maximise the outcomes and value of our funding. 

When most people think of research they tend to think of people in white coats working with test tubes, but laboratory work is only one facet of scientific research.

Research is often defined as any activity undertaken to increase knowledge. It involves systematically investigating a problem or question.

Much of the detailed work to understand what is happening at the cellular level requires laboratory work but there are many other important issues related to cancer and the burden it imposes on communities which need to be studied.

Research addressing the effects of cancer include behavioural studies, such as how best to deliver cancer prevention messages about high-risk behaviours to specific groups within the population.

Identifying cancer at an early stage is an important way of reducing the impact of cancer.  Research that leads to improved cancer screening programs makes a key contribution to the health of individuals and the Australian population more widely.  

Systematically reviewing and seeking improvements in the care provided to cancer patients and the outcomes achieved also represents a significant area for detailed investigation and study of cancer in the community.


What is the value of research?

Research underpins the framework for understanding our society and helps to steer ethical decision making in policy, practice and legislation. Without research we wouldn’t be able to discern myth from fact or opinion over evidence, with potentially catastrophic consequences – wasting money and resources, and putting people’s lives at risk. Research also helps to organise and provide systematic ways to find answers to questions; its goal is always to provide the scientific evidence to inform and empower.

At Cancer Council we use clear evidence to inform significant decisions about many aspects of cancer and its burden to the community.

From fundamental research into the genetic causes of cancer through to the development of evidence-based clinical guidelines, the research we fund and conduct always aims to improve patient outcomes through informed decision making.

Through transparent governance processes, we ensure every dollar allocated to cancer research is invested in the most promising research projects to advance our understanding of cancer and to attract the most talented researchers to make that happen.

We involve the community in decision making by inviting citizen input into the selection and evaluation of grant proposals through our Consumer Review Panel.  The Panel is an integral part in the selection process for all Project Grants submitted for Cancer Council funding. 

It is our emphasis on excellence that has secured our strong international reputation within the research community.

Find out more out the research we fund and conduct in this video.