CANSA Research

About CANSA Research

About CANSA Research

What is Cancer Research?

Cancer research is the study of cancer, from its basic biology to the effects of treatment. Researchers who study cancer collect and analyse information about every aspect of the disease. The final goal of cancer research is to produce effective treatment and to ensure the prevention of the many different types of cancers that are prevalent in present times.

Researchers include scientists, doctors, nurses, students and epidemiologists. (Epidemiologists study the factors influencing the initiation, development and spread of a disease within a population).

Different Areas of Cancer Research

The term ‘cancer research’ covers a wide range of activities. But, in general, there are five main areas of research:

  • Basic Research
  • Translational research
  • Clinical research
  • Behavioural research
  • Population research

Basic Research:

Basic research (cancer biology) is the study of how cells work. Cancer researchers who carry out basic research don’t focus on finding a new treatment or developing a new drug. Instead, they want to understand what makes cancer cells different from normal cells.

Scientists who do basic cancer research look at the molecules that cause this disease, such as proteins and DNA. They try to find out what goes wrong when cancer develops.

Translational research:

Translational research targets drug discovery and development. Researchers take discoveries made in the laboratory and shape them into potential new treatments or diagnostic tests that, in time, could help cancer patients. It applies the knowledge gained from research into cancer biology.

This kind of research is usually carried out in a laboratory. The results from translational studies can tell researchers if a new treatment or test should be tried in people.

Clinical research:

The goal of clinical research is to develop more effective treatments for cancer. Clinical researchers try new combinations and doses of existing treatments to see if they work better than standard treatments (the ones that are already being used to treat patients).

Clinical researchers also use the information collected from translational research to develop new cancer treatments. Sometimes they might use this information to improve standard treatments as well.

Clinical research is carried out in hospitals and usually involves cancer patients. They take part in what is known as a clinical trial. The clinical trial tests a drug or medical procedure to see if it is a safe and beneficial treatment in one group of people and comparing it with standard treatment given to another group of people.

Many medicines and drugs work in laboratory tests. But they must be shown to be safe and effective for people before they can be approved by the regulatory authorities and given out by doctors.

Behavioural and population research

Behavioural and population research aims to identify the things that influence our chances, or risk, of getting cancer. If we understand what increases our risk of developing cancer, we should be able to find ways to reduce the risk and prevent cancers from occurring.

Behavioural research looks at how our behaviour can affect our chances of getting cancer. It tries to find out why people behave the way they do, why they sometimes behave in unhealthy ways and what motivates them to adopt more healthy behaviours.

Population research looks at how cancer affects the general population and aims to identify its causes. This type of research uses large-scale studies that involve thousands of people, looking for patterns (trends) in the incidence of different cancers. The large number of people involved make it easier to spot the factors that are associated with increased cancer incidence.

By combining behavioural and population research we can develop strategies for preventing cancer and promoting good health. Tobacco use, cancer screening, dietary behaviour and sun protection are some areas that have been investigated by these researchers.

CANSA’s Research

CANSA prioritises its research to ensure that all South African communities benefit.

CANSA has remodelled its programmes to increase focus on Health Promotion and advocacy in addition to bio-medical cancer research. According to a CANSA survey of ten years of funding, more than two-thirds of the research funded at institutions concerned cancer biology (basic research) and therapy (experimental and clinical). As these researchers hardly ever choose topics dealing with early detection, prevention and palliation of cancer which are crucial key components of our mission statement, a system called “A, B, C and D” has evolved in CANSA and concerns the modus operandi of research funding. Click here to read more about the study.

The Type A category defines research projects presented to us by researchers at recognised institutions. In other words the researcher decides what to research. Type B projects are similar to Type A except that the idea for the project comes from us. Type C projects are also initiated by us and concern the patient-oriented services of CANSA, such as palliation of cancer patients.

Funding CANSA’s Research

CANSA has been fortunate in receiving magnificent bequests from individual members of the public over the years, specifically for funding cancer research. These funds have been grown with considerable success through excellent investment strategies by financial experts serving CANSA on the CANSA Investment Committee. For years CANSA has acted as the custodian of the funds and has made annual grants through a Research Committee of peer-review researchers.  Download CANSA’s Research Dynamo.

Our Research Strategy

Purpose:
To extend our current leadership role within the cancer research environment, to ensure global recognition by providing evidence based support to CANSA’s health and advocacy programmes hereby contributing towards the unique service proposition of CANSA as well as the greater needs of the South African public.

Strategic Objective:
To integrate research outcomes into the organisational, logistical and philosophical fabric of CANSA as a unique feature to optimise overall performance.

Focus areas:

  • Sharing of expertise knowledge (internal and external clients)
  • Institutional research – type A
  • Environmental, CANSA initiated research – type B
  • CANSA services projects – type C
  • Consortium projects – type D
  • Scientific findings used in CANSA health, advocacy and watchdog role programmes
  • CANSA Science & Resource Centre – gifted youth project

Initiatives:

1. Rendering expert cancer input based on scientific findings

  • Media: radio, newspapers, Health 24 (online)
  • Lectures – “Cancer in the Kitchen”, Diet & Cancer – “50 Smart Choices”
  • International collaborations, partnerships: AACR, UICC, AORTIC, PAEMS,
  • Participation in, facilitation of congresses, conferences, seminars, workshops
  • Conceptualise and facilitate booklet on ‘Cancer Myths & Facts’
  • CANSA Science & Resource Centre (gifted youth microscope project)
  • Evaluation of type A research projects at institutions

2. Facilitating risk reduction of environmental carcinogens through type B projects

  • Plasticisers, heavy metals, acrylamide, trans fats, water contaminants, Lindane shampoo
  • Rooibos as anti-carcinogen, Canola oil

3. Facilitating effective and appropriate type C & D research

  • Promote type C and D projects

4. Promote CANSA USP (Unique Service Proposition)

  • Initiate and manage research findings to enhance, align and focus health and advocacy/watchdog programmes
  • Promote the CANSA Seal of Recognition programme as advocacy/watchdog initiative

Download CANSA’s Research vision.

Our Progress & Achievements

We are one of the largest funders of cancer research in South Africa and the country’s largest charity dedicated to cancer research. Read the Research sections of our Annual Reports to find out about some of our most important successes, the progress we are making in beating cancer and the people who make our work possible.

Who and What we Fund

Click here to find out more about the scientists we fund and how their research projects are of value in the struggle against cancer.

CANSA Science and Resource Centre

Click here to read about the CANSA Science & Resource Centre.

Get Involved with our Research

  • Click here to make a secure online donation to support our research projects or make a direct deposit to ABSA Bank, Account: CANSA Research, number: 4079965964, Branch: 632005, Reference:Type A, B, C or D Research (the project you choose to support).

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