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Reviewing our year

by Ali Glossop | Analysis

20 July 2017

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Our 2016/17 Annual Report and Accounts and Annual Review have just published and we’ve been reflecting on our progress over the last financial year. Here are a few of the big themes from our year which we cover in the annual publications.

Download the Annual Report and Accounts and Annual Review to find out more.

Uniting to beat cancer

Scientist at the Francis Crick Institute, opened in November 2016

Researchers, fundraisers, doctors, nurses, patients, volunteers, campaigners, supporters and staff – everyone involved with Cancer Research UK plays a big part in helping us achieve our ambition of 3 in 4 people surviving cancer by 2034.

It’s because of them – and in particular our amazing supporters – that this year has seen us move closer to that goal. We were able to spend £432 million on research to improve how we prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.

But it’s not just through donations that supporters are helping to beat cancer.

For example, people like Alfred, Peter and Tommy, who have taken part in our clinical trials; Sue, who works in a Cancer Research UK shop and campaigns for early diagnosis; and Kath, who runs Race for Life and helps us promote healthy lifestyles. Together, they’re all helping us to beat cancer sooner. You can read how in our Annual Review.

Collaborating and partnering

Things like the political environment and the health system can affect the time it takes for people to benefit from our work. That’s why working alongside government and other organisations is vital to ensure that our ambition remains in reach.

For example, this year we collaborated with the Royal College of Pathologists to publish a report highlighting the rising demand for diagnostic cancer tests. The report, combined with our other campaigning work for improving rates of early diagnosis for cancer, meant that this year the Government announced increased funding for early diagnosis in England.

We also work alongside other charities and universities and hospitals. For example, we’re collaborating with UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and Children with Cancer UK to fund and run a project led by Professor Kathy Pritchard-Jones. She is looking into a new genetic test that could improve treatment of children’s kidney cancer.

Bringing benefit to patients sooner

Making a difference to people with cancer is at the heart of everything we do. Cancer survival has doubled over the past 40 years and research has been central to that progress.

But the nature of scientific research means that it can take a long time for an early discovery made in the lab to lead to real benefits for patients.

For example, in the 1980s, our researchers started work on the weaknesses cancer cells have in repairing damaged DNA. This work laid the foundations for the development of PARP inhibitors years later.

We want to make sure that all our supporters have the very best experience – whether they’re donating, volunteering, partnering or working with us in any way.

In 2015, the PARP inhibitor olaparib, which our scientists helped develop, was approved for treating certain women with advanced ovarian cancer in the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s now approved in Scotland too.

To try and speed things up and to bring benefits to patients sooner, we’re doing things like making our clinical trials more efficient. We also work to improve patients’ access to existing evidence-based treatments, for example influencing reforms to the Cancer Drugs Fund in England. Then in 2016, another PARP inhibitor rucaparib was licensed in America. We hope it will be approved as a treatment for certain patients in Europe soon.

To make sure we fund the right research in the first place and to help shape our policy and information work, we involve people affected by cancer. People like Graydon, who features in the Annual Review, make a huge contribution by sharing their experiences of the disease and how they think we can work more effectively.

Providing the best experience

We want to make sure that all our supporters have the very best experience – whether they’re donating, volunteering, partnering or working with us in any way.

We’re always striving for the highest standards and seeking to improve how we work, such as monitoring the ways we fundraise and encouraging feedback from our supporters.

This year, 1 July was an important day for us – we became an opt-in charity, meaning supporters will only receive marketing communications from us where they have given us specific permission to do so.

Looking to the future

It’s safe to say that thanks to our supporters, and all those who work with us, we’ve done some incredible things this year.

We’re making a real difference to people with cancer and their families right now. And that’s truly something to celebrate.

But we won’t stop here. To make sure we reach our ambition of 3 in 4 people surviving cancer by 2034, we’ll continue to push ourselves so that we continue to deliver incredible work year after year.