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National Cancer Institute
National Cancer Institute U.S. National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute
OverviewUnderstanding NanotechnologyImpacts on CancerWhere It Stands Now

Learn About Nanotechnology in Cancer

Nanotechnology—the science and engineering of controlling matter, at the molecular scale, to create devices with novel chemical, physical and/or biological properties—has the potential to radically change how we diagnose and treat cancer. Although scientists and engineers have only recently (ca. 1980's) developed the ability to industrialize technologies at this scale, there has been good progress in translating nano-based cancer therapies and diagnostics into the clinic and many more are in development.

  • To gain a better understanding of nanotechnology, we invite you to begin your exploration of this emerging field by learning about the science behind it.
  • If you want to know more about the current applications of nanotechnology in cancer research and its promise for cancer diagnosis and treatment, the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer provides up-to-date information on what is available now and what is on the horizon.
  • Nanotechnology relies on the intersection of expertise from many science and engineering disciplines. If you are a cancer biologist looking for new solutions to your research questions or a scientist working with nanomaterials whose applications to cancer research are yet unknown, learn more about opportunities with the Alliance and all of the currently available research literature in this field.

Understanding Nanotechnology

Nanoscale objects—typically, although not exclusively, with dimensions smaller than 100 nanometers—can be useful by themselves or as part of larger devices containing multiple nanoscale objects. Nanotechnology is being applied to almost every field imaginable including biosciences, electronics, magnetics, optics, information technology, and materials development, all of which have an impact on biomedicine. Explore the world of nanotechnology »

Impacts on Cancer

Nanotechnology can provide rapid and sensitive detection of cancer-related targets, enabling scientists to detect molecular changes even when they occur only in a small percentage of cells. Nanotechnology also has the potential to generate unique and highly effective theraputic agents. Learn about nanotechnology in cancer research »

Where It Stands Now

The use of nanotechnology for diagnosis and treatment of cancer is largely still in the development phase. However, there are already several nanocarrier-based drugs on the market and many more nano-based therapeutics in clinical trials. Read about current developments »