The report, commissioned by four research funders and charities, demonstrates that cancer research doesn't just save and improve lives, but benefits the UK economy.

The document shows that in relation to medical research, Government investments are matched by public donations to medical charities every year. The report uses a methodology that relates improvements in cancer treatment to the increase in years of good quality life after treatment, valued in monetary terms, minus the costs of providing the treatment. The importance of long-term funding programmes are also highlighted, as benefits seen from cancer research investment occur over longer periods of time.


  • The UK Government invests approximately £8.6 billion in scientific research and development every year, of which £1.6 billion is spent on medical research. The British public donated an estimated £1.7 billion to medical research charities in 2012/13
  • Each pound invested in cancer- related research by the taxpayer and charities returns around 40 pence to the UK every year. This includes health benefits equivalent to around 10p plus a further 30p which is the best estimate of the ‘spill over’ effect from research to the wider economy.
  • Global research efforts have led to key cancer treatments and interventions that have delivered health gains equivalent to £124 billion for UK patients between 1991 and 2010 through prevention, early identification and improved survival.
  • The average time lag between investment in cancer research and eventual impact on patients is around 15 years. This evidence demonstrates the importance of long-term funding plans so that research today can deliver the health gains and economic benefits of the future.
  • In current prices, the British public has funded £15 billion of cancer research over the past 40 years through their taxes and charitable donations.

The four organisations involved in the report were Cancer Research UK, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Wellcome Trust and the Department of Health