How far we've come since Race for Life began
Race for Life is the largest women-only fundraising event in the UK. Money raised from this event has a huge impact on the work of Cancer Research UK. It ensures we are the leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research.
Race for Life began in 1994 in Battersea Park with 680 participants. We have made some fantastic progress since then. This is thanks to so many of you coming back, year-on-year, to our events and raising money to fund our life-saving work.
Developments like those listed below have led to an overall drop of around 16 per cent in the death rate from all cancers since Race for Life began.
Thank you for your ongoing generosity and hard work.
Some of the progress we've made over the years
1994 Our scientists track down the BRCA2 gene – carrying a faulty version of this gene increases the risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.
1995 We team up with international researchers to show that the human papillomavirus causes the vast majority of cases of cervical cancer worldwide.
1996 Our scientists start recruiting for the Million Women study, investigating the causes of cancer and other diseases in more than a million UK women aged 50 plus. The study is the largest of its kind and has provided important information about the risks and causes of cancer.
1997 Our researchers pinpoint a gene containing instructions for a key part of a protein called telomerase, which helps to make cancer cells "immortal". Scientists are now looking at ways of switching off the telomerase gene in order to treat cancer.
1998 Our researchers show that giving the drug tamoxifen to younger as well as older breast cancer patients could save tens of thousands lives each year worldwide.
1999 We publish results of a large-scale trial of a new type of radiotherapy for lung cancer, called CHART, which could help to improve survival from the most common form of the disease.
2000 Our scientists publish the results of the first large trial of a new drug, called rituximab, showing that it can help to treat different types of lymphoma.
2001 Our scientists publish the results of a large trial of a new drug.
2002 Cancer Research UK is formed from the merger of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the Cancer Research Campaign, joining forces to beat cancer.
2003 We launch our national sun awareness campaign, SunSmart, to raise awareness of enjoying the sun safely and ways to prevent skin cancer.
2004 Our scientists publish a report showing that lifelong smokers lose around ten years of life expectancy and all the benefits of increased longevity that come from improved healthcare.
2005 Cancer Research UK-funded scientists help to develop a type of drug called a PARP inhibitor. These drugs are now being tested in clinical trials for women with breast and ovarian cancer who have faulty BRCA genes.
2006 We challenge the government over delays in starting the national bowel screening programme. The programme is now rolling out across the UK, and could save more than 2,000 lives every year by 2025.
2007 Using the latest techniques, our researchers uncover new genes involved in breast and bowel cancer. Later on, new genes for brain, lung and prostate cancer are also revealed.
2008 Our researchers show that some bowel cancers may be due to rogue stem cells, pointing towards new ways to tackle the disease.
2009 Cancer Research UK scientists discover a molecular "flag" that can predict survival from prostate cancer. This could be developed into a future test to help doctors decide on the best treatment for men with the disease.
2010 Our scientists discover that a one-off five minute screening test could prevent one third of bowel cancers and save thousands of lives.
2011 New laws banning under-18s from using sunbeds come into effect – our supporters were vital in helping us campaign for this life-saving legislation.
2012 Cancer Research UK joined forces with Channel 4 to launch ‘Stand up to Cancer’. Television, music and film stars came together in the fight against cancer.
Read more about our progress and achievements
Cancer Research UK's history and impact stretches back over a century. Find out more about the achievements and progress we've made over the years.
Join the fight against cancer and enter Race for Life
Cancer, we’re coming to get you. Join in this year’s Race for Life and show cancer who’s boss. Come along and run, walk, dance or sponsor - together we will bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.