Cancer Research UK is a cancer research and awareness-promotion charity in the United Kingdom, formed on 4 February 2002 by the merger of the Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. It is the foremost cancer charity (charity number 1089464) in the United Kingdom, and the biggest cancer research organisation outside the USA. It is accredited by the UK's National Health Service as a health information provider.
In the financial year 2006-7, the charity spent £315 million on cancer research, supporting the work of more than 3,000 researchers, physicians, nurses and other medical professionals in hospitals, universities and institutes throughout the United Kingdom. This funding covers all areas of cancer research. For example, some of the money goes to funding lab-based scientists who research the biology behind cancer. These scientists are trying to answer questions such as how cells become cancerous, how cancer spreads and how cancerous cells differ from non-cancerous cells. This research can then be used to identify possible new more effective and targeted cancer treatments. Funding also goes into supporting clinical trials of promising new drugs; researching and testing improved methods for diagnosis; carrying out studies into the risk-factors for cancer; improving quality of life for cancer patients; and much more.
The charity campaigns on issues such as smokefree workplaces legislation, cancer screening and long-term strategies for cancer services.
Additionally, it disseminates information to the general public and the scientific community through its various websites, as well as its twice-monthly scientific publication, the British Journal of Cancer. It also makes information about current clinical trials accessible via its website; as at April 2007, there were 322 such trials open to UK cancer patients.
The vast majority of its funds come from its supporters and corporate donations. It fundraises through events including the women-only Race for Life 5k series, supporters giving a small amount such as £2 a month via Direct Debit, the similar Run for Moore events for men, a network of volunteers, and over 600 "high street" charity shops, which stock both new and donated items. In recent years a number of Relay For Life events have been held in the UK (based on similar events organised by the American Cancer Society); their numbers, and the amount of money they bring in, are increasing year on year.
Cancer Research UK is supported by a number of celebrities, including Westlife, Nicole Kidman, Madonna, Kara Tointon, Nell McAndrew, Kirstie Allsopp, All Saints, Mica Paris, Gloria Hunniford, Lemar, Cilla Black and Cate Blanchett.