Blood cancer research in the 1980s

Updated 21 Feb 2018

The survival rate for the most common childhood cancer reaches 7 in 10, and the scope of the charity’s research and support work expands further.

Thanks to successive clinical trials in the UK and overseas which test different combinations and different doses of drugs, the number of people surviving blood cancer has steadily improved. By the end of the decade, more than 70% of children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) – the most common childhood cancer, and the type that Susan Eastwood died from in 1960 – survive for five years or longer.

Read more about treating childhood leukaemia in the 1980s >

Read more about the search for better, kinder treatments for children with blood cancer over the years >

By 1983 the Leukaemia Research Fund has become the UK’s third largest cancer research charity, behind the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the Cancer Research Campaign (the two charities which later merged to become Cancer Research UK).

On 7 April 1984 the charity opens one of the largest leukaemia research units in Europe: the Leukaemia Research Fund Centre for Molecular and Cellular Biology of Human Leukaemia, at the Institute of Cancer Research of the University of London.

The second half of the decade sees new expansion, as the charity’s Development Policy is introduced. It aims to set up major research centres throughout the country and to coordinate research into blood cancer. Over the next few years, centres are established in Glasgow, Leeds and Cardiff, along with a research unit at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne focused on the study of remission and residual disease in leukaemia and lymphoma.

The charity also widens its scope to include more patient support. Information booklets on the various types of blood cancer are produced and widely distributed – a forerunner to the range of information and support we offer to people affected by blood cancer today.

In addition, a number of senior doctors are appointed as senior lecturers in university teaching hospitals, and a number of Clinical Fellowships are awarded at registrar level, bringing bedside support to blood cancer patients at many hospitals nationwide.