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Research in the French Comprehensive Cancer Centers

Along with patient care and teaching, research is one of the fundamental missions in the 20 French Comprehensive Cancer Centers that make up the UNICANCER Group.

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


In each Center, 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 Centers 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

Nearly 18% of patients in French Comprehensive Cancer Centers participated in a clinical study in 2010, 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 Centers.


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

Cooperation with all players involved in cancer research

To facilitate cooperation between the French Comprehensive Cancer Centers and other oncology players, UNICANCER has structured its network of Comprehensive Cancer Centers 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 Centers, the pharmaceutical industry and players in biotechnology, with the aim of enhancing cooperation and a transfer approach.