Our progress

Together we’ve helped double survival rates in the last 40 years. Each year our scientists get closer to beating cancer – developing targeted and kinder treatments; detecting cancers earlier so they’re easier to treat; or finding ways to prevent them in the first place.

New technologies, such as advances in genetics, are bringing us even closer to major breakthroughs.

Every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound, every hour, every person. It is thanks to the ongoing generosity and hard work of our supporters that we can continue to lead the world in discovering and developing newer, kinder treatments and get closer to cures.

Some of the progress we've made in the last decade

  • 2003 - We funded a clinical trial showing that adding chemotherapy to radiotherapy can help improve survival from medulloblastoma, the most common type of brain tumour in children.
  • 2004 - We funded the largest ever trial for people with operable pancreatic cancer, showing that giving chemotherapy after surgery could help reduce the risk of the disease returning or delay it. This has resulted in a worldwide change in the way that pancreatic cancer is treated, helping to extend the lives of patients.
  • 2005 - Cancer Research UK funded scientists help to develop a new type of drug called a PARP inhibitor. These drugs are now being tested in clinical trials for many different types of cancer. 
  • 2006 - A network of Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres was opened across the UK - funded by Cancer Research UK and the Departments of Health in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The ECMCs are designed to get new cancer treatments into clinical trials for patients as quickly as possible.
  • 2007 - Using the latest techniques, our researchers uncovered new genes involved in breast and bowel cancer.
  • 2008 - Our researchers showed that some bowel cancers may be due to rogue stem cells, pointing towards new ways to tackle the disease.
  • 2009 - Cancer Research UK scientists discovered a molecular "flag" that can predict survival from prostate cancer. This could be developed into a future test to help doctors decide on the best treatment for men with the disease.
  • 2010 - Our scientists discovered that a one-off five minute screening test could prevent one third of bowel cancers and save thousands of lives.
  • 2011 - Following promising results in large-scale clinical trials, abiraterone (Zytiga), a new drug for advanced prostate cancer that we helped to develop, was licensed in the UK.
  • 2012 - Results from a major clinical trial run by our scientists show that a new type of ‘smart drug’ can boost survival and save lives for people with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
  • 2013 - Our scientists discovered 23 genetic markers linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. We hope to use this information to develop a saliva test, for men at high risk of the disease.

Our other progress and achievements

Cancer Research UK's history and impact stretches back over a century. Find out more about the progress and achievements we've made over the years.