Skip to content
National Cancer Institute National Cancer Institute U.S. National Institutes of Health
Division of Cancer Prevention logo
Home Site Map Contact DCP
Programs & Resources

Scientific Scope

The Division of Cancer Prevention conducts and supports research to determine a person's risk of developing cancer and to find ways to reduce that risk. Through laboratory, clinical, and epidemiologic research, scientists have shown that the diseases of cancer occur not as single, catastrophic events, but rather as the result of a complex and long-evolving molecular process that can take decades. This long-term process of carcinogenesis provides time and opportunities to slow down, stop, or reverse the cellular changes that can become cancer.

Research fostered by the Division focuses on translational prevention and detection, but also spans the disease process: early interventions to stop or slow the progression of cancer; symptom management during treatment; and supportive care at the end-of-life. Investigators supported by the Division are generating new information about molecular processes that are vulnerable to interventions; developing effective chemoprevention agents; discovering early detection biomarkers; pinpointing mechanistically targeted nutrients; testing new screening methods and technologies; and conducting phase I, II and III clinical trials in prevention and control through national networks and at the community level.

Research Groups

Prevention Agent Development

The Chemopreventive Agent Development Research Group supports the identification and development of agents with the potential to block, reverse, or delay the early stages of carcinogenesis via a battery of preclinical pharmacology, toxicology, and efficacy tests. In addition, the group conducts phase 1 pharmacokinetic and safety studies in humans. In May 2010, a review committee convened to design the most effective research plan for the preclinical development component of research managed by this group.

Early Phase Prevention Trials

The organ systems research groups (below) develop and support clinical cancer prevention studies and trials evaluating promising new agents, biomarkers to measure efficacy, and new technologies to identify premalignant lesions. The Consortia for Early Phase Prevention Trials functions out of these groups.

Clinical Trials in Prevention and Cancer Control

The Community Oncology and Prevention Trials Research Group invests community physicians in clinical trials, via the Community Clinical Oncology Program and the Minority-based Community Clinical Oncology Program. The group is involved in all aspects of the design and implementation NCI's large cancer prevention clinical trials, and the review and approval of all Cooperative Group cancer control and prevention clinical trials. Cancer Control in this program includes symptom management, toxicity reduction, supportive and palliative care, and quality of life. Their portfolio thus broadens the scope of research through most of the cancer care continuum via both the CCOPs and as investigator-initiated grants.

Biomarkers for Early Detection of Cancer

The Cancer Biomarkers Research Group integrates basic and clinical science studies along with computational, statistical and epidemiologic approaches for a comprehensive understanding of biomarkers. It coordinates the Early Detection Research Network and the Alliance of Glycobiologists for the Early Detection of Cancer both of which promote and support research to identify, develop, and validate biological markers for earlier cancer detection and risk assessment.

Early Detection Trials

The Early Detection Research Group identifies and ascertains the effectiveness of both the operating characteristics and the impacts on mortality, and immediate and downstream risks of molecular and imaging cancer detection technologies and practices. Their projects include the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial and its Etiology and Early Marker Studies (with the NCI Division of Cancer Etiology)as well as the National Lung Screening Trial.

Nutritional Sciences

The Nutritional Science Research Group plans, develops, directs, and coordinates external, contract- and grant-funded research programs in diet and nutrition, including micronutrients as modifiers of cancer risk and tumor behavior. The group runs the STARS in Nutrition and Cancer lecture series and the Nutrition and Cancer Prevention Research Practicum for those in scientific fields who want to pursue a research career in the area.

Biostatistical Modeling and Collaborative Support

The Biometry Research Group plans and conducts studies in biostatistical and epidemiological methodologies and mathematical modeling of processes relevant to cancer prevention. Collaborations focus on cancer epidemiology, prevention, screening, and diagnosis. Other topics studied include randomized clinical trials, cancer biomarkers, bioinformatics, natural history models, nutritional epidemiology, and dietary assessment.

Back to top