Cancer research is one of the principal targets of translational research, yet the nature of the relationships between different forms of cancer research remains controversial. The paper examines publications in the cancer field during the 1980-2000 period. A network analysis software program was used to map evolving patterns of inter-citations between cancer publications, their different research levels and the transformation of their relational content. Both inter-citation and content maps provide striking evidence of the consolidation in the 1990s of a translational interface that was practically non existent a few decades before. In 1980, research was polarized according to the allegiance to either a clinical or a laboratory style. This same duality obtains in the year 2000, albeit with the additional presence of a third, biomedical player whose activities are similarly structured by a common orientation, rather than by an exclusive commitment to a specific sub-domain.