NCI Community Oncology Research Program - Kansas City (NCORP-KC)
NCI Community Oncology Research Program - Kansas City (NCORP-KC)

About Cancer Prevention Research


What are cancer prevention studies?


Who can participate?


How are study participants protected from unnecessary risk?


Ideas to consider



Cancer prevention studies constitute one type of clinical research. These studies develop strategies for cancer prevention or cancer recurrence. NCORP-KC conducts prevention studies on colorectal, breast, head & neck, and gynecological cancers, among others.

What Are Cancer Prevention Studies?

     This type of research involves studies in which people take a particular medicine or nutrient, eat a certain diet, or take other steps that preliminarily indicate they lower the risk of cancer. Study participants are closely followed to find out:

  • if medicines or other steps are safe to take, and
  • whether or not they prevent cancer.

     Some studies test ways to slow down or stop cancer before it starts. Others help people who have had cancer to stop it from coming back. Prevention studies often last many years, because it takes time to see whether cancer develops.

Who Can Participate?

     Males and females of all ages, may be eligible to participate in cancer prevention studies.

  • Most are healthy and have never had cancer.
  • Others may be healthy, but at a higher risk (i.e., heredity) for getting a certain cancer.
  • Studies that try to prevent second cancers include only people who have had cancer before.

     Each study has specific eligibility requirements (i.e., age, family history, personal habits) that determine who would be a suitable study participant.

How Are Study Participants Protected From Unnecessary Risk?

     Researchers thoroughly explain the study and answer any questions the potential participant may have. The participant is given an informed consent, a document that provides all the facts about a study. If he/she agrees to take part, the informed consent must be signed before he/she is entered onto the cancer prevention study.

     Each study is reviewed for safety and ethics by independent research experts and people from the community. New research findings that could affect the participant must be disclosed. The participant has the right to leave the study at any time. If it is found that taking part in a study is harmful, the participant will be taken off immediately.


Ideas To Consider

  • If you take a drug or other approach being tested, you may benefit if the approach does prevent cancer.
  • However, in certain studies, some participants are randomized ("by chance") to not get the drug, diet, etc. being tested. This is known as the placebo  or control group. Using this group assures that the study results are actually a consequence of the drug or other prevention approach being tested.
  • You have a chance to add to the body of knowledge about cancer and help others avoid the disease.
  • Doctors watch your health closely while on a prevention study--if you do get cancer, you benefit from early detection and treatment.
  • It may be determined that some methods tested do not prevent cancer.
  • Drugs used in studies could have known or unknown side effects that could harm you.
  • Health insurance and managed care plans vary in the coverage provided for study expenses (i.e., drugs, tests).

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