Skip Navigation
National Cancer Institute

Priority Areas

The Behavioral Research Program studies and funds research on cancer-related health behaviors, to prevent, detect, or ameliorate the effects of cancer.

Cancer-Related Health Behaviors

The Behavioral Research Program supports studies that focus on and fund a broad range of research aimed at preventing and controlling cancer. For example, tobacco use is causally linked to an increased risk for many kinds of cancer; studies show that obesity is linked to a higher risk of some types of cancer, and people who are physically active have a lower risk of certain cancers than those who are not; exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is the main cause of nonmelanoma skin cancers; and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection increases the risk for a number of cancers.

Biopsychosocial Processes of Cancer-Related Behaviors

The Behavioral Research Program supports research on the biopsychosocial processes of cancer-related behaviors. Social determinants and psychological antecedents can help predict or influence risk behavior and health outcomes. Apparent links between psychological influences, biology, and cancer could arise in several ways that involve health behavior. For example, people under various forms of distress may smoke, overeat, or drink alcohol, which increase a person’s risk for cancer. Research also has shown that some psychological responses can trigger inflammation and contribute to other health problems. In addition, biopsychosocial influences also may determine how people react to treatment.

Communication, Decision Science, and Policy in Cancer Control

How behavioral interventions and public health policy are communicated in the media and by health professionals, is of great importance to behavioral researchers.

Analytic Methods and New Technologies

Decision science and the development and application of research approaches and technologies can advance social and behavioral science in the context of cancer prevention and control.