Areas of Research
Scientific research is crucial for reducing the incidence of breast cancer. In fact, research can help reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by bringing to light new knowledge about the disease. Scientific discoveries can also impact by improving the quality of life of those living with this cancer. However, in order for projects to be subsidized by the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation, they must be carried out in priority areas of research as identified in the National Breast Cancer Research Framework:
- cancer biology;
- ethology (causes);
- screening, diagnosis or prognosis;
- oncopsychology (living with cancer);
- development of scientific models.
These areas comply with the Common Scientific Outline (CSO) whose detailed description is available here.
Types of research:
The overall purpose of scientific research is to increase the level and quality of knowledge about breast cancer. Each type of research may be geared towards a specific goal. Together, these scientific works generate additional benefits that further empower health professionals. Learn about the main types of research dedicated to the fight against breast cancer:
The purpose of basic research is notably to understand the principles and mechanisms of physical, chemical and biological phenomena. These works are carried out mainly in university research laboratories, in the heart of reputed centres of expertise, often of international reputation.
Example: High level of a particular protein in a mouse affected by cancer.
Unlike basic research, the so-called "applied" research deals with the application of scientific discoveries or with finding solutions to specific problems. This type of research is more likely to be commercialized due to its applications.
Example: The development of a mammography unit.
The purpose of these works is to accelerate the transfer of findings from basic research to clinical research. Translational research most often mobilizes multidisciplinary teams that are connected to both patients and research laboratories. It can move in both directions and send clinical observations back to the laboratory.
Example: The discovery of a genetic variation in a group of patients who did not respond to standard treatment.
The primary purpose of clinical research is to provide better knowledge about a disease and to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. It includes preclinical and clinical studies.
Preclinical study is performed on biological models or animals, based on the results obtained from basic research. When results are satisfactory, a clinical study may be initiated.
Example: A preclinical study to verify the effect of a molecule on tumour growth in mice.
Clinical Study (or Clinical Trial)
The clinical study (or clinical trial) is a study done on human subjects and is usually carried out in four phases.
Phase I: Assesses the lack of side effects in a small number of people who are generally in good health. With regards to anti-cancer treatments, this phase can be performed on patients affected by the disease who have not responded to other treatments.
Phase II: Also called "pilot study", is carried out on a greater number of patients and enables to determine the optimal dose needed to obtain the desired effect and cause the least side effects.
Phase III: Is a study carried out on a very large number of individuals during which the new treatment is compared to a reference treatment or to an inactive substance (placebo).
Phase IV: Follow up carried out over a long period of time to detect eventual or rarer side effects.
Clinical trials or studies are essential to gain a better understanding of the disease, and to evaluate and improve administered treatments. Each study is subject to a rigorous assessment by a scientific and ethical committee that ensures the participants’ safety.
Women who agree to participate in any of these studies are contributing to the advancement of knowledge in the fight against breast cancer. They also receive the best available care and may sometimes benefit from a treatment that is not yet available to the general population.
The Foundation encourages interested women to speak to their doctor about their eventual interest to participate in a clinical trial.
To learn more about ongoing clinical trials, visit canadiancancertrials.ca.