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Research Spend Report

Combining Cancer52 members with NCRI partners to provide a more complete picture of research spend in rare and less common cancers only.

Research spend by NCRI cancer group combined and separately for Cancer52 members

Analysis on combined spend by cancer group shows Blood cancer research receives the most funding representing 30.1% of the total spend in rare and less common cancers. This is followed by Gastrointestinal which accounted for 25.4%. Brain and nervous system represent 16.0%, Gynaecological cancers at 9.4% and other cancer sites not included in cancer group accounts for 8.3%. Finally Head and neck and Urological represents 5.6% and 5.2%, respectively.

Proportion of Cancer52 research spend by NCRI cancer group


Combined research spend by NCRI cancer group


Combined spend of each rare and less common cancer type (by order of NCRI cancer group)


Analysis also breaks down each cancer group by CSO research areas segmented by Cancer52 members and All (Cancer52 members and NCRI partners combined). The analysis indicates both categories show similar funding where the majority of research is funded towards Treatment, apart from Urological where both categories show high investment towards Early detection, Diagnosis, and Prognosis.

The table below shows the research spend on rare and less common cancers only, grouped by NCRI cancer groups to show trends in research (CSO) area. Cancer52 members only is shown in the last column.

Research spend by NCRI cancer group and research area


Individual rare and less common cancer type spend

The table below show the full breakdown of combined spend of each individual rare and less common cancer type within their NCRI cancer grouping.

Research spend by NCRI cancer group and research area


Analysis in context

Analysis by NCRI grouping shows Blood cancers, Brain and CNS, and Gastrointestinal cancers have the greatest research spend. Cancer52 member spend shows similar patterns to the greater NCRI partner spend.

The high funding for these cancers may be because Blood cancers and Brain and CNS include leukaemia, brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours, and lymphomas, which are the most common childhood cancers. Statistics show that together these cancers account for around two-thirds of all cancers diagnosed in UK children (1997-2016).5 The Gastrointestinal group includes cancers like pancreatic and oesophageal, which have some of the highest mortality rates of rare and less common cancers.6

In addition Brain, Oesophagus and Pancreas have been identified by Cancer Research UK as ‘cancers of unmet need’ so have attracted greater investment in this period.


5.  Children’s cancer incidence. Cancer Research UK. Accessed March 2023.

6.  Cancer mortality for common cancers. Cancer Research UK. Last reviewed: 31 May 2022. Accessed February 2023

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