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Patient and Health Care Consumer Education Guide: Getting Started with Cancer Research

Guiding patients, family members, caregivers, consumers, and the larger MSK community to cancer information.

This page is for those who would like to know more about cancer or want to start their own searches for research or support.

The text "Getting Started with Cancer Research" in white on a purple flower background.

Cancer Librarians at the MSK Library

Please note that MSK Library Services are for MSK patients and their family members and caregivers.

If you have any questions about finding information or support, librarians at the MSK Library are available to help!

Our library Ask Us help page features a streamlined question submission form, live chat with Zoom-enabled screen sharing, and a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).

You can use this page to:

  • Request an MSK librarian conduct a literature search for you on a research topic.
  • Email MSK Library staff a question.
  • Chat with an MSK librarian Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm ET.
  • Explore answers to frequently asked questions.

Understanding Cancer and Finding Support

Great places to start:

Other sites for clear and comprehensive information:

For help understanding medical terms:

General Information on Cancer

Searching for Articles Online

  • National Library of Medicine (NLM): PubMed
    • PubMed is a free search engine with millions of records on life science and biomedical topics. Not all articles you find here will include the abstract (i.e. summary) or a link to the full paper, but it is a great place to start. The United States' National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) maintains this database, and they have a PubMed Online Training page to show you how it works.
  • National Library of Medicine (NLM): PubMed Central (PMC)
    • PMC is a part of PubMed, and the added benefit of searching here specifically is that all the articles you find will link to the full paper.

Other Cancer Librarians as Resources

If you would like to continue to explore online, look to Recommended Websites for Cancer Information, one of three resources maintained by the Medical Library Association's Cancer Librarians Caucus, a professional group of cancer librarians.

One section to highlight in this resource is Cancer Resources for Special Population Groups (which includes BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, CaregiversChildren and Adolescents, and LGBTQIA+), and there are other sections like Disparities and Genetics.

From their Core Cancer Library, here are books you may find interesting, available to purchase or find at your local library:

And if you want to locate a specific cancer library in your area, look to their Partial List of Patient Cancer Libraries in the United States and Canada.

Need Help?

Having a hard time finding something?

Want to learn more about the MSK Library team and our support?

Visit the MSK Library home page:

Reach out to MSK Library staff:

  • Visit our Ask Us page to also reach out via email or chat.
  • The line to reach our Reference team to ask a question is (212) 639-7439.