Childhood cancers: Help fund research into the causes of children’s cancer

Last updated: 22/12/2014

Why this research is needed

 cancer nurse and young patient in hospital bedAround 1,600 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK. It is the most common cause of death from illness at this age. The causes for most children's cancers are unfortunately still unknown.

The impact of our work

Research has made great advances in improving treatment so that today, three quarters of children with cancer survive. Cancer Research UK is at the heart of this incredible progress.

However, there is still a great need to study the over 40 different kinds of children's cancers. Understanding the causes of these types of cancers will help shed new light on ways to prevent and treat the disease, saving thousands of lives in the future.

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Project closed - May 2013

We've achieved the project target of £20,942! Thank you so much to everyone who has fundraised and donated to this project. We really appreciate your generous support.

This project is now closed, but we are raising money for another area of childhood cancer research that you can support:

Childhood cancers: Support research for treatments with fewer side effects

Hunting down the causes of children's cancers

The answer may hide in their genes

Professor Jillian Birch at the University of Manchester is studying the genetic and environmental factors linked to children's cancer.

Professor Birch hopes her research will reveal clues to why children and teenagers develop cancer at a young age, and shed new light on ways to prevent and treat the disease, that could help save thousands of lives in the future.

Professor Birch is particularly interested in the inherited 'faults' in a gene called TP53. She plans to study samples from patients which all have the TP53 faults. She wants to know if faults in this gene are linked to things a child may have been exposed to before or after birth.

To do this, she will have DNA from the samples analysed by leading experts in TP53 and will use an anonymous database of detailed information about each patient and their parents to look for links between this information and gene faults.

Uncovering common features in children’s cancers

Professor Birch’s work has been supported by Cancer Research UK for over 25 years. She has led pioneering work in understanding how and which genes can lead to cancer in children and teenagers. She is also looking for connections between environmental factors and childhood cancer.

She manages the Manchester Children's Tumour Registry (MCTR), a collection of information taken from every child and teenager with cancer throughout the North West over the past 50 years, including samples of DNA from the tumours.

Professor Birch uses the MCTR to discover common features in cancers to identify possible causes. Her latest project involves using complex mathematical methods to find out if some cancers run in families.

The difference you can make

Our work is funded entirely by the public. It's thanks to the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to fund pioneering research into children’s cancer and Professor Birch’s work could unlock answers that could help save thousands of young lives.

Please donate now to support our vital work into this disease.