Cancer Research UK in a Snapshot

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research
  • The charity’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
  • Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates double in the last forty years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.

Vision & Strategy

Cancer Research UK’s vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. In the 1970s, less than a quarter of people with cancer survived. But over the last 40 years, survival has doubled – today half will survive. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress and see three-quarters of people surviving the disease within the next 20 years.

We’re focusing our efforts in four key areas – working to help prevent cancer, diagnose it earlier, develop new treatments and optimise current treatments by personalising them and making them even more effective. We’ll continue to support research into all types of cancer and across all age groups. And we’re keeping our focus on understanding the biology of cancer so we can use this vital knowledge to save more lives.

We’re increasing our research in key areas such as early diagnosis, and hard-to- treat cancers including lung, pancreatic, oesophageal cancers and brain tumours.

We’re developing new tests, surgery and radiotherapy techniques, and cancer drugs. We want to personalise prevention, screening and treatment and bring benefits to patients sooner.

To help accelerate progress, we’ll be investing an additional £50 million a year into new funding schemes for our researchers. These will encourage collaboration and innovation, and support research tackling some of the biggest scientific challenges in cancer research.

Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of cancer and we’ll work towards the day when no one smokes – in particular by protecting children and helping people to quit.

But we can’t achieve our mission alone. We rely on our dedicated scientists, doctors and nurses, and the generosity of our supporters across the UK. With your help, we can beat cancer sooner.

What we’re doing now

We recruit around 25,000 patients to our clinical trials each year – helping us to find new ways to beat cancer. And we support over 20 paediatric trials which have recruited nearly 2,000 patients in 2014-15.

Our clinical trials cover a wide range of treatments including radiotherapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy, as well as cancer prevention, early diagnosis and screening.

We fund clinical trials finding better ways to treat many different types of cancer, from the most common – such as breast, bowel, prostate and lung cancer – to rare cancers, through our International Rare Cancers Initiative.

We have seven clinical trials units, designing and co-ordinating large-scale studies across the whole of the UK. Our Children’s Cancer Trials Team, headed by Professor Pam Kearns (link is external), co-ordinates groundbreaking trials at 21 children’s cancer treatment centres across the UK and Ireland.

And our network of 18 Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (link is external) supports early-stage clinical trials of new cancer treatments.

How we’ve made a difference so far

  • Have taken over 100 new drugs into clinical trials since the early 1980s – more than 100,000 patients have joined our treatment trials since 1995.
  • Showed that giving tamoxifen to younger as well as older breast cancer patients could save an extra 20,000 lives each year worldwide.
  • Completed the first UK trials of a new generation of highly targeted cancer drugs, known as PARP inhibitors, for people with breast and ovarian cancers caused by inherited gene faults.
  • Funded major trials for pancreatic cancer, changing the way that patients are treated and bringing them precious extra time.
  • Ran some of the very earliest studies of major cancer drugs such as temozolomide (Temodal) for brain tumours and cisplatin. More than 9 out of 10 men with testicular cancer are now cured with cisplatin.
  • Funded a major trial of a type of targeted radiotherapy, called IMRT, for people with head and neck cancer, which significantly reduces the side effects of treatment.

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