Reverse The Odds Game - Q&A

1. What am I looking at?

Reverse The Odds datasets are images of samples of lung, head and neck, and bladder cancers from many patients in large studies. A method called Tissue Microarray was used to break up these samples into clear, individual images as you see in the game. Researchers have taken tiny hole-punches of tumour samples, preserved them in blocks of wax and used precise machinery to cut them into very thin slices. Once like this, they can highlight cells or molecules of interest through sophisticated colour staining that detects specific molecules they think are playing a role in cancer. Finally they use powerful microscopes to zoom right in. And there you have it, the pictures you see, broken up into tiny pieces. All of the samples are labelled anonymously and please also be assured that your input won't directly affect the diagnosis or treatment options of a patient. This is all to help our scientists learn more about particular cancers.

2. What happens if I make a mistake on the cell analysis or don't know the answer?

Don't worry about making mistakes; your time spent playing the game will be invaluable to us. Data analysis accuracy comes with volume. Lots of other people will see the same pictures as you, and we look at the general patterns or clear majorities. So the more people that analyse the slides in the game, the better the results will be! Please also be assured that your input won't directly affect diagnosis or treatment options for patients- it's all to help our scientists learn more about particular cancers. So simply try your best, and you will help us advance cancer research. If you slip up occasionally, or have to take a bit of a guess, that's fine!

3. Why use a game to analyse data?

Our scientists have huge amounts of data built up, and it needs to be analysed by human beings - computers aren't good enough at recognising the patterns required. By incorporating data analysis into Reverse The Odds, we can get thousands of players to help our scientists learn more about a variety of cancers. You're analysing just as the researchers would. But because there are a lot more of you, this can happen much more quickly, saving our researchers' valuable time and unveiling clues about how to beat all cancers, sooner.

We've already launched two previous projects which have been successfully used to analyse real cancer data, to view and take part in these visit:

4. How do you know this is producing accurate science?

During development, Reverse The Odds went through several rounds of thorough scientific testing to ensure the game produced the highest level of accuracy for our scientists. These results also fed into changes in the game.

We've also used a similar type of analysis mechanism in Cell Slider which produced results that had the same accuracy range as our researchers.

5. How is 'Reverse The Odds' accelerating cancer research?

Our scientists will look at your descriptions of the cells and compare this with what they know about the cancer. In some sample sets, the patients have received different treatments whereas in other image groups, researchers are trying to identify certain molecules or genes that are playing a role in the cancer. Any interesting observations would open up important new avenues for further research to beat cancer. The outcome of this could potentially allow scientists to accurately predict the behaviour of cancer and find the best ways of targeting individual subtypes of cancer.

6. How do you know using the public to analyse cancer data works?

Through the launch of our previous two citizen science projects, Cell Slider and Genes in Space, we have demonstrated that citizen scientists produce results that are consistent with researchers and are up to six times faster.

We've been working with The Zooniverse, who have over 25 citizen science projects with various organisations. This platform is not widely used in the biomedical field, but we plan on pioneering citizen science as a cutting edge research tool to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

7. Were scientists involved in making the game?

Yes. A few key Cancer Research UK scientists have been involved in the making of the game and have been able to provide feedback on how the science in the game has worked.

Professor Gareth Thomas is hoping to better understand different peoples' immune response to lung cancer. Members of the public will simply be asked to count how many of a particular type of immune cell they see. This information could potentially help us develop treatments that will allow our bodies' immune response to better target and fight lung cancer.
Find out more about his research here

Dr Anne Kiltie is aiming to identify features of bladder cancer patients' tumours which may predict how well they will respond to certain cancer treatments. Members of the public will be asked to judge if a tumour sample contains a particular molecule (represented as colour) and how much of that molecule there is (the intensity of the colour). This information could help in targeting patients to the best treatment for their particular type of bladder cancer and avoid unnecessary treatments that aren't effective for them.
Find more about her research here

We are hoping to expand to include more researchers and data from many different cancers. If you are a researcher or know a researcher who would like to collaborate with us, you can email us at

8. How do I find out the results of citizen science?

Although our citizen scientists are helping us to speed up the process of data analysis, it may still be a while before our researchers can turn this into definitive results. If you want to stay up to date with our progress, just send us your name and email address to and we'll keep in touch.

9. What platform is the game available on?

Reverse The Odds is available to download on your mobile or tablet from Google Play, Apple App Store and Amazon App Store.

10. Who made this game?

The game has been a joint collaboration between Cancer Research UK, Channel 4, Maverick Television, Chunk and Zooniverse.