History of Cancer Research UK patient information | Cancer Research UK
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History of Cancer Research UK patient information

The patient information website of Cancer Research UK began life as CancerHelp UK, founded in Birmingham in 1995, by Nick James and the late Sally Tweddle. We are proud to continue their aims of providing information for people affected by cancer that is accessible, comprehensive and easily readable.


Nick James is a cancer specialist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham and Professor of Oncology at the University of Birmingham Institute for Cancer Studies.

Sally Tweddle was an educationalist with an interest in literacy. Before founding CancerHelp UK, she worked with the National Council for Educational Technology in Coventry. Her husband's cancer and their search for cancer information on the Internet inspired the setting up of CancerHelp UK. Tragically Sally herself died from cancer in December 1999. Her obituary is printed in full on the site.

Early days

The management team from 1995-2000 also included David Davies and Peter Riding. 

David Davies is the creator of the University of Birmingham's Medweb site and is a senior lecturer at the University developing and researching the Web as a medium for learning. 

Peter Riding was joint founder and first project director of the BBC Networking Club, a forerunner to BBC Online. He now runs his own company, Webserve, which offers a range of web services.

CancerHelp UK was originally hosted on the Medical School server at the University of Birmingham where it remained until the re-launch in 2000. The original site was one of the first comprehensive cancer sites based in the UK. It has grown steadily since its formal launch in February 1996. The site was originally funded from a variety of sources including the NHS, CRC, educational grants from pharmaceutical companies, donations from individuals, and the cancer centre at the Queen Elizabeth and Nuffield Hospitals, Birmingham.

Management passed to Cancer Research Campaign

The management of the site passed to The Cancer Research Campaign in 2000. The redesigned site and new cancer trials database was formally launched on the 14th November 2000.

In February 2002, The Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund merged to form Cancer Research UK, who now own and fully fund the site.

Site redesign in 2009

In October 2009, the site was relaunched following another redesign. This was necessary to update the look and feel of the site, and to accommodate the rapid growth in content that had taken place over the previous years. New services were launched, including summaries of all cancer type pages (our quick guides), a question and answer search, and expansion of the clinical trials database to include closed trials and trials with results.

Current redesign

The online world is rapidly developing and changing and we are developing new and innovative ways to provide more personalised information. You will see these gradually introduced to the website over the coming year.

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Updated: 11 May 2016