Active steps are required to increase the amount of lung cancer research being carried out in the UK, according to the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) in a report* unveiled at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Birmingham today.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world and accounts for 22 per cent of all cancer deaths in Britain, but it only attracts 3.9 per cent of funding spent on research into specific types of cancer.

British research into lung cancer is among the best in the world, but there is a clear need for more of it. The NCRI report lays out the reasons why lung cancer falls behind in terms of research activity and suggests a number of ways to tackle these deep-seated problems and
ensure that lung cancer receives a proportionate amount of funding in future.

Actions include raising the profile of lung cancer research, improving the collection of essential tissue samples for research, and initiating new research into the needs of lung cancer patients. The report also discusses the feasibility of funding research on screening for lung cancer.

Achieving our ultimate goal of improving the experience of lung cancer patients will take time and require sustained effort from research funders and the research community. Sadly the outlook is poor for people diagnosed with lung cancer and we hope that this research will go some way towards changing this. There is no quick fix for the problems highlighted in the report, but the NCRI is committed to helping organisations work together to coordinate their efforts to best effect. We were also pleased to find that there was no reluctance to fund research into this much-needed area.

Peter Cardy, Chief Executive, Macmillan Cancer Support and Chair of the group responsible for the report


Lung cancer is often perceived as being difficult to study and difficult to treat successfully. While there are some issues particular to lung cancer that can make it hard to study, these problems are not insurmountable and efforts must be made to ensure lung cancer patients receive the full benefits that world-class scientific research can bring. We hope the actions in this report will go some way towards this.

Mike Unger, Chief Executive, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation


In this report, we have identified the priority areas that need to be addressed, and started to put in place the mechanisms required to respond to the national shortfall in lung cancer research. Some NCRI Partners have also allocated new funding for lung cancer, but it is not just a question of money. The research community must engage with us to boost the overall number and quality of research projects put forward for funding.

Professor Mike Richards, National Cancer Director and Chair, NCRI