As a disease with a truly global reach, cancer has touched most people in a personal way. For this reason, research into its causes and treatment is rarely out of the spotlight. Right now that spotlight is shining very brightly. Why? There is a collective sense of excitement and hope within the cancer research community that has not been seen in many years. Cancer patients are showing promising and sometimes dramatic responses to new treatments – most notably, to immunotherapy. Meanwhile, cancer genome projects have yielded unprecedented insights into the cellular signaling pathways that drive the development and progression of cancer – information that has led to effective therapies tailored for individual patients. These projects have also yielded sobering news. Many types of cancer are genetically far more complex than previously imagined. Moreover, cancer cell genomes rapidly evolve in response to environmental pressures, a feature that enables the cells to develop drug resistance. Importantly, this new appreciation of cancer’s complexity is redirecting attention to cancer prevention and early detection – research areas that traditionally have been understudied and underfunded. This topic page will highlight advances in all of these research areas.