Our research strategy

Macmillan Cancer Support seeks to reach and improve the lives of people living with and beyond cancer and to inspire others to do the same. Our research helps us to understand the numbers, needs and experiences of people affected by cancer and generate evidence to enable a better cancer story. We test and support innovative and effective new services or pathways of care that seek to deliver improvements to existing systems or address critical gaps in care.

Macmillan is an evidence-based organisation leading and investing in research that will deliver long term benefits for people living with cancer.  Research is critical to informing the health and social care system as the number of people living with cancer increases. Our research priorities are guided by the organisational direction as well as the health and academic environment.

The types of research we invest in are diverse and multi-modal, using established research methodologies and innovative developments: from longitudinal cohort studies to data linkage studies and in various environments from social, clinical and academic settings. We work to maximise the impact of our research by collaborating across sectors to disseminate findings and identify shared challenges, opportunities and interests.

We have strengthened our commitment to involve people living with and affected by cancer in our research.  By adopting different models of involving people affected by cancer in research activities – from consultation at one end to more participatory involvement at the other, we will increase opportunities for user involvement in the research we fund.

Our research strategy is broadly focused on, but not limited to, four domains:


Estimating the current and projected size and segments of the cancer population to improve our understanding of people affected by cancer. This includes understanding the cancer population across cancer types, demographics and cancer care pathways at local and national levels.

Outcomes and experience, including understanding consequences of treatment and personal experiences

Many people diagnosed with cancer are living with the short- and long-term consequences of their cancer and its treatment, including long-lasting psychosocial effects. It is crucial to understand their experiences and overall outcomes. We undertake a wide range of work in this area from understanding individual need to the longer term implications on quality of life.

Health economics

The rapid increase in the number of people living with and beyond cancer has placed an increasing economic burden on healthcare services for people with cancer. Our research seeks to address this increasing economic challenge, by understanding the costs of cancer on the individual and the wider system.  

Some of the key themes for our current work in this area are:

  • links between cost and patient outcome
  • variation in cost between and within cancer types
  • total costs across the pathway
  • projected costs following treatment
  • cost- effectiveness of Macmillan interventions.

Effective interventions

Macmillan is committed to providing effective interventions to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. We invest in evidence that demonstrates the value of the services we offer, the outcomes they deliver, and the long impact they have. We will understand the effectiveness and efficiency of our service solutions and demonstrate how they affect experience, costs, outcomes and quality.