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Research in the French Comprehensive Cancer Centres

Along with patient care and teaching, research is one of the fundamental missions in the 18 French Comprehensive Cancer Centres of the Unicancer network.

The historical position of the Centres on research is to help patients benefit from diagnostic and therapeutic innovations based on all areas involved in treating cancer.


In each Centre, multidisciplinary teams combine patient care with research units to develop integrated cancer research, based on a continuum of fundamental, translational and clinical research.


Fundamental research

Fundamental research is carried out via cooperation with EPST certified teams (Etablissements publics à caractère scientifique et technologique – Public Establishments of Scientific and Technological Character - like INSERM and the CNRS) and/or from Universities. In 2010, nearly 80 partnerships between Centres with EPST and/or Universities were registered with Unicancer.
The type of research within these partnerships is varied, from identifying new oncology targets and new imaging techniques to targeted therapies, etc.
These partnerships also play an essential role in translational research (see below) in producing research in human and social sciences: psychology, sociology, health economics, epidemiology, public health, etc.

Clinical Research

15% of patients in French Comprehensive Cancer Centres participated in a clinical study in 2017, considerably exceeding the national target of 10% set in the Cancer Plan.

Translational research

Translational research is the missing link between fundamental research and clinical research and helps ensure the continuum between research and patient care to accelerate the application of the latest research for the benefit of patients. It is one of the key points in the Cancer Plan and is one of the major research orientation strategies of French Comprehensive Cancer Centres.


For more information on the research in each Centre, you can visit their internet sites.

Cooperation with all players involved in cancer research

To facilitate cooperation between the French Comprehensive Cancer Centres and other oncology players, Unicancer has structured its network of Comprehensive Cancer Centres around 7 inter-regions created by the canceropoles: Grand Ouest (West), Grand Sud Ouest (South-West), Île-de-France (Paris and suburbs), Nord Ouest (North-West), LARA (Lyon, Auvergne, Rhône-Alpes) and PACA (south east areas).

Canceropoles are regional or inter-regional structures that coordinate research in France. They work in association at the territorial level with teams from state-funded scientific organisations (INSERM, CNRS, universities, CEA, etc.), university teaching hospitals, French Comprehensive Cancer Centres, the pharmaceutical industry and players in biotechnology, with the aim of enhancing cooperation and a transfer approach.