Facts about cancer and haematology research

Karolinska Institutet is at the forefront of cancer research in the world. The research covers all areas from precision medicine and new immunotherapies to studies in large population groups, end-of-life care, prevention and childhood cancers.


About a third of all Swedes get cancer at some point in their lives, but five-year survival varies between different cancers. Many patients are cured, others are living with a cancer which is then considered to be a chronic disease. Several factors are linked to an increased risk of cancer, such as smoking, diet, hormones, viral infections, environmental toxins, and genetic predispositions, but more research is still needed to gain a greater understanding of how cancer occurs.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet are working to identify known genes that can stimulate or prevent the development of cancer, but also to understand how epigenetic changes in DNA can be linked to cancer development. With the help of so-called cancer vaccines, it is possible to activate and strengthen the body's own immune system to treat certain cancers. By developing safer diagnostics, it is possible to treat patients for preventive purposes, but also to improve risk assessment for metastasis as well as sensitivity to different therapies at the individual level, so-called precision medicine. Karolinska Institutet conducts research in all these areas.

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy can cure cancer by causing damage to the DNA of tumour cells. However, some cancers can resist treatment and by studying this, our researchers work to reduce the risk of so-called drug resistance.

An important part of cancer research is about patient care and quality of life both for the patients who survive the disease and at the end of life. At Karolinska Institutet, there are also biobanks and patient registries that focus on cancer research, such as KI Biobank and the Swedish Twin Registry. Other areas at Karolinska Institutet that can be applied to cancer are, for example, bioinformatics, proteomics, and stem cell research.


Haematology is the study of the blood and its diseases. Diseases can occur in deficient conditions such as anaemia, in the absence of red blood cells, or haemophilia, in the absence of coagulation factors.

Cancerous diseases in the blood mainly affect adults and the elderly and the most common forms are lymphoma, myeloma, and leukaemia. However, acute leukaemia sometimes also occurs in young children, and here science has contributed to greatly improving therapies in recent decades.

Karolinska Institutet's research in this area aims both to increase the number of survivors and to improve the quality of life for patients who are cured or live with their disease.

Find out more about this area