Cancer, the big C, is not just a single disease; it is a complex beast that, according to data from the National Cancer Institute, will be diagnosed in 1 in 2 people during their lifetime. The Editorial team at PLOS Biology believes strongly that we are Open for a Reason, precisely so that research in areas of high importance reaches the widest audience. Cancer research is one such area that should be as openly available as possible, with associated data mineable and reusable, ideally in an open access, CC-BY journal as quickly as possible.
Cancer can take hold in numerous locations in the body, can metastasize and travel to other sites, and generally results from cumulative mutations in many genes and pathways. Although the (open access) Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer  reports an encouraging overall decline in cancer death rates, many of us will have lost someone, or know someone currently battling with cancer, and it continues to devastate lives.
Despite research and advanced treatment options leading to an increased survival rate for many kinds of cancer, there is still a lot that we don’t understand. Cancer research does not encapsulate just one small area of research, instead it encompasses investigations across a broad range of mechanisms in many genes and pathways using a range of model organisms, not least, humans. Many questions remain as to what triggers the onset of cancer, tumour progression and metastasis; how we can best identify new targets for drug development; and of course how best to treat the disease in its many forms.
Given the worldwide impact of cancer from a financial and economic perspective, as well as from a more emotive one, publishing cancer research in an open access forum is one way to ensure that those who need access to research discoveries from across this broad field have that access as quickly and as easily as possible. PLOS Biology is open for just this reason, and we publish many high impact publications that relate to cancer one way or another. For this reason, we encourage cancer researchers to consider PLOS Biology as a high visibility venue for your future research. We are interested in all areas of cancer research traversing the bedside-to-bench spectrum, and we welcome translational studies.
Later this week, I will be representing PLOS Biology at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2013, along with colleagues from PLOS Medicine and PLOS ONE. Last year at the AACR meeting, there were nearly 17,000 attendees from 70 countries; based in Washington DC this year, no doubt thousands will again gather to discuss the latest, most interesting findings in all areas of cancer research.
If you’re attending and want to find out more about how to publish in an Open Access journal, you can visit the PLOS booth to learn more about PLOS Biology, meet me and others from PLOS at our booth, number 544. We’re planning a meet the editor session from 12 til 1:30 pm on Monday 8th April; stop by to leave a message for me, or email me at biologue[at]staging.plos.org, and we can arrange a time to chat.
We’ve gathered some examples of research articles in various aspects of cancer biology that have been published in PLOS Biology over the last few years, so if you’re interested in seeing some of the great research we publish, take a look at our AACR Collection 2013.
 ‘Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2009, Featuring the Burden and Trends in Human Papillomavirus (HPV)–Associated Cancers and HPV Vaccination Coverage Levels’
Ahmedin Jemal, Edgar P. Simard, Christina Dorell, Anne-Michelle Noone, Lauri E. Markowitz, Betsy Kohler, Christie Eheman, Mona Saraiya, Priti Bandi, Debbie Saslow, Kathleen A. Cronin, Meg Watson, Mark Schiffman, S. Jane Henley, Maria J. Schymura, Robert N. Anderson, David Yankey, and Brenda K. Edwards
JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2013) 105(3): 175-201 first published online January 7, 2013 doi:10.1093/jnci/djs491