Women’s cancer: Support our work to beat breast and gynaecological cancers

Last updated: 29/12/2014

This project is supported by England Netball

Why this research is needed


Around 54,000 women are diagnosed with breast or gynaecological cancers every year in England - that's around 150 women per day. Gynaecological cancers include those of the ovaries, womb, cervix, vagina and vulva.

Despite impressive medical and scientific advances that have seen survival rates improve, these diseases still claim the lives of around 16,100 women a year in England.

The impact of our work

Our research has been at the heart of progress that has seen five-year breast cancer survival rates in women increase from around 5 in 10 in the
1970s to now more than 8 in 10, and ovarian cancer survival rates almost double in the last 30 years.

But we want to make sure that women diagnosed with breast or gynaelogical cancer have the best chance of survival and that's why support like yours is invaluable.

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Project closed – December 2014

Thank you so much to everyone who has generously supported this project, helping to raise £20,000 for our work into women's cancers.

We're working hard to beat women's cancers and you can read more about our work and the latest research developments below:
Breast cancer
Ovarian cancer
Cervical cancer

Fundraising for this project has now closed. But you can still continue to donate or raise money for our life-saving work. All you need to do is choose another project that you'd like to support.

We're raising money for many areas of pioneering research, including research into breast, cervical, ovarian and rare cancers.

Take a look at all of our current research projects here.

Our work to help beat breast and gynaecological cancers

Below are some examples of research that we're funding into breast and gynaecological cancers.

Professor Nick Coleman at the University of Cambridge is investigating how the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can cause cancer in some people. HPV is a common infection and up to 80% of people in the UK are infected with the virus at some time during their life.

For most people the virus causes no harm and goes away without treatment. In some people the infection will stay around for a long time and become persistent.

There are hundreds of different types of HPV. Most are harmless. But around 30 types of HPV can cause cancer. These are called 'high-risk' strains. People with persistent infections with 'high-risk' HPV types are those who are most likely to go on to develop cancer.

Professor Coleman's research mostly looks at how HPV causes cervical cancer, but the work is also relevant to vaginal and vulval cancers which can also be caused by the virus. Understanding more about the virus and how it causes cancer could reveal new ways to prevent or treat these cancers more effectively.

Dr Antonis Antoniou at the University of Cambridge aims to be able to identify people with a high risk of cancer. A trained statistician, he is currently developing computer programmes to help doctors to assess a person's risk of developing certain cancers, mainly breast and ovarian cancers, using information about their genetics and family background.

If women at high risk can be identified, the hope is that they can be offered tailored screening, monitoring or lifestyle advice.

Dr Alice Simon is developing a leaflet that aims to help women become more aware of the key symptoms of gynaecological cancers. She will test how well it works and hopes it will inform women about the changes to look out for.

She hopes it will mean women go to the doctors sooner if they have symptoms, hopefully leading to an earlier diagnosis and a better chance of successful treatment.

The difference you can make

Cancer Research UK is a major funder of research into breast and gynaecological cancers. With your support we can continue to research ways to beat these cancers, to help save even more lives in the future.

England Netball

This project is very kindly supported by England Netball, who have already raised over £10,000 for Cancer Research UK.

England Netball logo

Paul Clark, chief executive of England Netball says:

Open QuoteEngland Netball is delighted to be supporting Cancer Research UK as their official charity partner.

We know that a significant number of people within the netball family have been affected by cancer, and with 54,000 women diagnosed with breast or gynecological problems every year, we know this is a great cause our netballers would love to support.Closing Quote