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Spend by research area in rare and less common cancers (NCRI and Cancer52 members combined) against spend in the most common cancers; breast, lung, prostate and bowel.

NCRI figures show that of the total spend on cancer research by UK governments and charities just over half is based on site specific projects. Looking at the site specific spend only, 54% is focused on rare and less common cancers equating to £179,586,851 and the remaining accounts for 46% (£153,975,389) towards projects involving the more common cancers.

Combined spend by research area

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More information about the CSO bandings is in the Methodology section.

Spend shows similar patterns across the research areas, with few exceptions.

  • Biology: With the exception of resources and infrastructure there is a greater spend within rare and less common cancers in this area compared to common cancers.
  • Aetiology: Rare and less common cancers have a greater spend in factors in the origin and cause of cancer compared to common cancers.
  • Prevention: There is nearly twice as much spend in research into personal, non-dietary interventions to prevent common cancers than rare and less common cancers.
  • Treatment: For rare and less common cancers, a significantly greater amount is spent on systemic therapies, particularly discovery and development than common cancers. More is also spent on resources and infrastructure related to treatment and prevention.

Analysis in context

The analysis shows that spend on rare and less common cancers equates to 54% of overall spend on site specific cancer research. The incidence of rare and less common cancer is 47% compared to more common cancers and mortality is 55%. The split may therefore initially appear appropriate, however there are just four common cancers, compared with over 200 rare and less common cancers sharing this funding.