Cancer breakthroughs at Manchester

The University of Manchester leads transformative cancer research that spans prevention, detection and treatment of the disease. The discoveries we make shape cancer healthcare policy and clinical practice, helping to improve the outcomes for patients across the world.

Global problem

There are more than 200 types of cancer and one in two people will be diagnosed with some form of the disease during their lifetime. While cancer affects every country worldwide, patient outcomes are often poorer in the world's hardest-to-reach, socially and economically deprived communities where access to screening and treatment is limited. 

Our cancer research activities embody the multi-disciplinary, collaborative and entrepreneurial values that lie at the heart of our University.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell / University President and Vice-Chancellor

Manchester solution

At Manchester, we utilise our research expertise across cancer prevention, detection and treatment to improve the outcomes of all people affected by cancer.

We cultivate multi-disciplinary teams from areas including biology, maths, physics, big data, AI and immunology to spark new ways of thinking about tackling cancer across the whole spectrum of the disease.

The University has social responsibility as a core goal and we ensure that the lessons we learn in Manchester are applied to global populations, as well as local ones.

Our research breakthroughs

Explore the themes below to discover how our researchers are working to advance cancer discoveries and treatments to improve patient outcomes and create a fairer world for all.


Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally  accounting for an estimated one in six deaths in 2018 alone – and places tremendous physical, emotional and financial strain on individuals, families, communities and health systems.

Research over the past two decades has estimated that more than half of cancer cases could have been prevented by applying knowledge that we already have. Smoking and tobacco use, inactivity, and obesity are modifiable causes of cancer.

Our research aims to deliver effective strategies to help stop the disease before it starts.

Earlier detection

Cancer remains the leading cause of death in the UK, with rates projected to increase to more than half a million annual cases by 2035.

Early detection is key to transforming the prospects for patients diagnosed with cancer – the earlier it is detected, the higher the chance that treatment will be successful.

Our research focuses on developing innovative detection methods and technologies for diagnosing cancer earlier.


Effective cancer treatments are fundamental to improving outcomes for patients, however, not all populations have the same access to treatment and standards vary depending on location. Of the patients whose cancer is treated successfully, many will experience long-term adverse effects of their treatment, including increased risk of developing a secondary cancer.

Our research includes improving the effectiveness of treatments; developing ways to prevent or lessen side effects; making treatments more personalised and striving to ensure that research developed in Manchester is shared across the world to improve outcomes for everyone.