Basic cancer research gives us an understanding of the start, growth, and metastases of cancerous growths. The focus is on cells. Researchers spend time in the lab trying to understand what differentiates normal, healthy cells from a cancerous one.
The cells being studied can be extracted from persons with cancer, or they can be developed in test tubes or animals.
When using animals for cancer studies, researchers can also try new treatments to understand their mechanism of action and side effects better. These studies help us to understand why some drugs are effective and others are not.