The Institute of Cancer gathers together those research teams working on this disease, as common as it is complex.

Scientific challenges

Research is mainly organized around three aims:

  • Identifying risk factors;
  • Redefining cancers, based on the biological signature of each tumor profile;
  • Developing a personalized approach to health care taking account of both the patient’s profile and his or her type of cancer.

Several fields are directly involved in this research.

This allows for an analysis of gene expressions and alterations at the level of the genome. It also makes a more accurate genophenotyping of tumors possible, and therefore better therapeutic strategies.

This helps to shed light on the somatic alterations of a cancer. As the main component of so-called “post-genomic” approaches, its performances are still too inadequate to quantify protein markers in a reproducible and reliable manner.
Tumoral microenvironment. The objective is to understand host-tumor relations. This research field seeks to turn the components of the tumor environment into new therapeutic targets.

Targeted therapy
Targeted chemotherapy is aimed at the very mechanisms of oncogenesis. The existence of these new therapies is overhauling medical oncology practices towards personalized prescriptions.

Research is now focusing more on the optimization of molecular imaging technologies combining the conventional techniques of medical imaging with the use of tracers that are able to pinpoint a specific cell signal. Biotechnologies are also enabling swift progress to be made in tumor imaging.


Medical challenges

With around 920,000 people treated, 320,000 newly affected and 145,000 deaths a year, cancer is the leading cause of death in France, ahead of cardiovascular diseases.
Although the death rate has been falling over the last two decades for some types of cancer, the overall incidence is on the rise (+ 60% between 1980 and 2000). The elderly are the most affected, with a third of diagnoses being made in the over 75s.

Three reasons explain the increase in the disease:

  • Population aging,
  • More widely available exploration and screening techniques,
  • Environmental causes.

This disease can affect almost all types of tissue. In 50% of cases, the causes of cancer are known (tobacco – 25% of cancer deaths are caused by this alone –, alcohol, sedentary lifestyles, overweight, unbalanced diet, etc.). But in the other half of cases, it is therefore impossible to determine the exact causes of cancer.
The success of early screening in the prognosis of numerous cancers is spurring us on to continue the already considerable efforts under way in this field. Indeed, cancer presents a threefold public health challenge: human, social and socioeconomic.

Director: Christine Chomienne
Deputy Director: Alain Eychene
Director's assistant: Sophie Gomez

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