This year has been as busy as ever and we’ve made great progress made in all aspects of our work, from lab research to clinical trials and policy to prevention. Here are some of our key successes. Click here to view in an interactive timeline.
- Our researchers in Cambridge discover how breast cancer cells ‘reprogramme’ the way they respond to the female hormone oestrogen, which could explain why some cancers become resistant to hormone therapy. We’re now searching for new drugs to stop this happening.
- We team up with Tesco to raise millions of pounds to fund research into early diagnosis and cancer awareness. Check out our video highlighting the importance of going to the GP when something seems amiss.
- Researchers in Newcastle launch an ‘outpatients’ clinical trial of a new type of drug, known as a PARP inhibitor, for breast and ovarian cancer patients.
- Our scientists develop a fluorescent dye that can spot the earliest stages of oesophageal cancer, which could lead to more efficient diagnosis in the future.
- At our Beatson Institute in Glasgow, researchers map out the 3-D shape of an important ‘switch’ molecule that helps to protect against cancer.
- Our commercial arm, Cancer Research Technology, announces the launch of an exciting new company to develop High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) for treating certain types of solid cancer, which could have fewer side effects than current treatments.
- Our Drug Development Office opens a clinical trial of a brand new type of drug for children with acute leukaemia that’s stopped responding to treatment.
- We celebrate our tenth birthday as Cancer Research UK by looking back over the past decade of progress and our century of history.
- Our scientists reveal the best imaging technique for seeing whether a woman’s ovarian cancer is responding to treatment.
- Cancer Research UK-funded scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research show that hundreds more breast cancer patients – particularly those under 50 with triple-negative cancer – should have a genetic test for faults in their BRCA1 gene.
- Leading model agencies sign up to a “no sunbed” policy in response to our R UV UGLY? campaign.
- Researchers in Cambridge show that a combination of two drugs is far more effective against pancreatic cancer than each one on its own – both are now being tested together in an early stage clinical trial. They also find out how another drug pairing amplifies the effectiveness of chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, taking another important step forward in tackling this disease.
- We release stark statistics showing that 157,000 children take up smoking every year, kicking off a year of campaigning for standardised tobacco packaging that will give kids one less reason to start.
- Led by scientists at our London Research Institute, we announce a groundbreaking study showing how cancers evolve within the body, helping to explain why they can be so difficult to treat.
- Our researchers discover a drug that can ‘inflate’ the blood vessels inside pancreatic tumours, allowing drugs to get in and kill the cancer cells.
- Scientists find that tweaking the energy supply to prostate cancer cells could lead to a new way to treat the disease.
- At our Gray Institute in Oxford, researchers develop a technique to take ‘snapshots’ of tiny tumours in the brain, which could help to detect cancer spreading to the brain faster in future.
- Researchers at our Paterson Institute in Manchester unveil a promising new approach for treating myeloid leukaemia, bringing hope that we will beat this aggressive type of cancer one day.
- Together with the European Investment Fund, our commercial arm Cancer Research Technology announces an innovative new £50 million fund to bring new cancer treatments from the lab to patients as quickly as possible.
- Our researchers help to find that a cheap diabetes drug called metformin could double the effectiveness of a drug called Avastin for treating melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
- Our scientists at University College London make an intriguing finding about how cancer might spread, showing that cells literally ‘pop out’ of place.
- Led by scientists at our Cambridge Research Institute, the discovery that breast cancer is 10 separate diseases makes headline news around the world and rewrites the rule-book on what we know about it.
- A major trial funded by Cancer Research UK shows that adding chemo to radiotherapy can halve the risk of bladder cancer coming back after treatment. The results change the way that people with bladder cancer are treated, particularly for older people with the disease.
- Our scientists discover a potential new treatment for Wilms’ tumour, a type of childhood kidney cancer.
- At our London Research Institute, scientists discover that a combination of two existing drugs might be effective against lung cancer caused by smoking.
- Using a ‘jumping’ gene called Sleeping Beauty, our researchers uncover new genes involved in pancreatic cancer, opening the door to future therapies.
- A large Cancer Research UK clinical trial sets a new ‘gold standard’ of radiotherapy for thyroid cancer, reducing radiation doses to one third of the current level and helping to cut side effects and make treatment easier for patients.
- Through our Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre in Leicester, we launch a clinical trial testing whether curcumin – a chemical found in the curry spice turmeric – can boost treatment for bowel cancer.
- Our Drug Development Office launches the first clinical trial testing a new combination of drugs for lung cancer – a disease where more effective treatments are urgently needed.
- Our scientists in London, Oxford and Edinburgh track down a gene fault involved in bowel cancer on the X-chromosome (one of the sex chromosomes). This is the first time a gene on a sex chromosome has been implicated in a type of cancer that affects both sexes, and may explain why rates of bowel cancer are higher in men.
- Researchers develop an exciting new blood test that could reveal cancer’s genetic secrets, allowing doctors to monitor how a patient’s tumour is changing at a molecular level in future.
- Following the news in March that aspirin could cut the risk of dying from cancer, published by scientists at Oxford University, our researchers make progress in understanding how aspirin might work to prevent bowel cancer.
- There’s good news as new statistics show that the number of people in the UK in their 50s dying prematurely of cancer has fallen below 14,000 for the first time in 40 years.
- We celebrate our patron the Queen’s diamond Jubilee by looking back over 60 years of progress in beating cancer.
- The largest study of its kind, co-ordinated by researchers at our UCL Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, shows that counting the number of cancer cells in a patient’s blood sample could provide a vital picture of how neuroendocrine tumours are responding to treatment.
- As vismodegib (Erivedge), a new drug for basal cell skin cancer, shows promise in clinical trials, we look at how our lab research led to its development.
- Our researchers help to reveal new insights into the development of childhood brain tumours, which could pave the way for new treatments.
- Our Policy and Fundraising teams celebrate as the Chancellor agrees to exclude charitable donations from a proposed income tax relief cap as a result of our strong campaigning – a move that we think will save us between £5 million and £15 million over the coming few years.
- Our campaigners descend on Parliament for our biggest ever day of action in Westminster, raising awareness of our campaign for standardised tobacco packaging, The Answer Is Plain.
- We join forces with AstraZeneca to launch a clinical trial giving a brand new drug in combination with existing chemotherapy to people with advanced stomach or oesophageal cancer – the first trial in our ECMC Combinations Alliance. The Alliance aims to broaden the options available to cancer patients by giving them access to combinations of drugs from different manufacturers. In August we launch a second combination trial, this time for people with oesophago-gastric cancer.
- We launch a clinical trial to test whether male cancer survivors could benefit from testosterone therapy, which could help to reduce some of the side effects of their treatment.
- Our scientists discover a protein that’s overactive in mouth cancer, pointing towards a potential future treatment.
- At The Institute of Cancer Research, our scientists discover a new drug that acts as a ‘master switch’, turning off multiple messages that drive cancer cells to grow out of control. The new drug is now heading into clinical trials in cancer patients.
- Researchers at Imperial College in London find a molecular ‘Post-It note’ that can reveal whether a patient’s breast cancer is likely to spread.
- We show that a new drug can give a ‘double hit’ against leukaemia cells, which could become a treatment for patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in the future.
- We help to fund an international research collaboration investigating a new drug combination that could bring hope for children with neuroblastoma.
- We receive no Government funding for our research, so we were thrilled to receive a generous gift of £10 million – our ever largest single donation – to help our Create the Change campaign, raising £100 million for the new Francis Crick Institute in London.
- More than 75,000 people support our plain tobacco packaging campaign, The Answer is Plain, asking the government to remove slick branded packaging from cigarettes and giving kids one less reason to start smoking. Following Australia’s adoption of standardised packaging in December, we’re now waiting for the government’s decision.
- Our scientists in Birmingham and Glasgow discover how high levels of iron might increase the risk of bowel cancer, by activating a crucial cancer-causing signal.
- The Million Women Study, funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council, finds that smoking can significantly increase the risk of some bone marrow and immune system cancers.
- Our scientists find a completely new way that male sex hormones can drive the growth of prostate cancer, revealing new routes for treating the disease.
- We’re overjoyed that abiraterone (Zytiga), a drug for advanced prostate cancer that we helped to develop, is finally approved for men across the whole of the UK.
- We reflect on 25 years since our discovery of the APC bowel cancer gene, looking at how it’s made a difference to patients and their families.
- Researchers at our Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre in Belfast show that targeting the non-cancerous cells around throat and cervical cancers could lead to more effective treatments for these diseases.
- EPIC – the largest ever study of diet and cancer, co-funded by Cancer Research UK – shows that being even moderately active (including things like gardening, walking and housework) can help to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
- Our researchers uncover a way to predict whether a woman is likely to experience severe pain after breast cancer surgery.
- We help to fund an international study revealing that for women with specific faulty genes, having chest X-rays at young ages can increase the risk of breast cancer.
- An important clinical trial shows that giving men with prostate cancer hormone therapy over eight month intervals, rather than continuously for years, is just as effective and can help to reduce side effects from the treatment.
- Our scientists discover how a crucial protein helps breast cancer cells survive – it could lead to new ways to target up to one in ten cases of the disease.
- Researchers at the University of Dundee develop a gene test that can predict whether a woman’s ovarian cancer will respond to commonly-used chemotherapy. The discovery also highlights new ways to target the disease.
- Through our Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre in Newcastle, we launch an exciting early-stage clinical trial to find out whether dexanabinol, a chemical similar to those found in cannabis, can treat advanced cancer.
- Our statisticians bring more good news as they show that cancer death rates are predicted to drop 17 per cent by 2030, saving thousands more lives.
- We Stand Up To Cancer, with a celebrity-packed show on Channel 4 and fundraising activities around the country, raising a staggering £8 million that could fund up to 15 clinical trials to bring new treatments to people with cancer.
- Our scientists in Leicester and London investigate whether a simple blood test could spot the earliest signs of breast cancer more accurately than current screening techniques.
- We launch an important new clinical trial for children and adults with a type of muscle cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma, aiming to improve survival for people whose cancer has come back after treatment.
- Researchers at our Beatson Institute in Glasgow make the intriguing discovery that breast cancer cells spread by ‘digging’ into nearby tissues and crawling into the spaces. This detailed lab research helps us understand how cancer spreads and how we could stop it.
- Our researchers in Bristol find that comparing levels of a certain protein could predict whether a person’s bowel cancer is likely to respond to treatment with a particular type of drug.
- We launch our first ‘citizen science’ cancer project, CellSlider, allowing anyone to help our scientists spot cancerous cells on their home computer with just a few clicks of a mouse.
- Our scientists show that combining digital images of breast tumours with genetic information can give a more accurate picture of how a cancer will behave, which could lead to more effective treatment in the future.
- Scientists at our Cambridge Research Institute discover new types of early cells in mammary (breast) glands, uncovering clues to the origins of different breast cancer and revealing potential new drug targets.
- Fantastic news for cancer patients as the Government listens to our Voice For Radiotherapy campaign and announces a £15 million fund to enable people in England to get the latest radiotherapy techniques and a commitment that all patients would receive the treatment they need from April 2013. But we think much more needs to happen to make these good intentions a reality for everyone.
- The results of the independent breast screening review, commissioned by the National Cancer Director and Cancer Research UK, show that as well as saving lives, the current breast screening programme also brings a risk of overdiagnosis – women being diagnosed with a slow-growing cancer that would not have caused them a problem in their lifetime. The review highlights the need for research to help increase the benefits and minimise the risks from breast screening in the future.
- We’re very happy to see that vemurafenib (Zelboraf), a new drug for advanced malignant melanoma, is approved by NICE for patients in England and Wales. Our work underpinned the development of the drug, which targets a faulty gene found in around half of all melanomas.
- Results from a pilot trial show that giving bowel cancer patients chemotherapy before surgery can help to shrink their tumour, making it easier to remove. The treatment is now being tested in a larger trial, and could make a big difference to people with bowel cancer in the coming years.
- Our researchers develop a way to target prostate cancer screening based on a man’s age and genetic background, which could potentially save thousands of men from unnecessary treatment.
- Lab researchers at our Gray Institute in Oxford find a ‘three-in-one super-molecule’ that could one day help detect cancer early, destroy tumours and enable doctors to monitor treatment.
- Results from a major clinical trial run by our scientists in Cardiff show that a new type of ‘smart drug’ can boost survival and save lives for people with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
- As new figures show that 33,000 long-term survivors of childhood cancer are alive in the UK today, we announce an exciting partnership with the JLS Foundation, set up by boy band JLS, to raise vital funds to support research into cancers affecting kids, teens and young adults, and provide quality, engaging health information to JLS fans.
- A large Cancer Research UK study confirms that fewer, bigger doses of radiotherapy are just as safe and effective for treating women with early breast cancer as the current international standard treatment.
- A major clinical trial, funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council, shows that taking the drug tamoxifen for ten years can halve the chances of dying from the most common form of breast cancer up to 20 years after being diagnosed.
- Scientists at our London Research Institute discover a molecular ‘grappling hook’ that plays a vital role in helping cells to divide – a process that not only underpins cancer but life itself.