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Philanthropic support is vital for unlocking the mysteries behind cancer


Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, or nearly one in six deaths, according to the World Health Organization. 

But, as we recognize World Cancer Day, it’s important to acknowledge that more people are beating cancer than ever before—not all types of cancer admittedly—cancer survival rates overall have been doubling since the 1970s. According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, just 60 years ago, almost no child with leukemia survived more than a few years, but today, thanks to new discoveries and advances in treatment, 90% of children with the most common type of leukemia will survive.   

Much of this is due to pioneering research by leading oncology associations and foundations, research that is leading to earlier cancer diagnosis and better treatments and outcomes for cancer patients. 

The Fight Against Cancer is one of the four pillars of the Candriam Institute for Sustainable Development. We believe that philanthropy has a role to play in supporting innovative and sometimes underfunded  cancer research areas. 

The Institute for Sustainable Development provides funding to leading cancer research and prevention institutes in Europe and Japan. Many of these organisations, often working closely with scientific boards to select relevant projects, focus on research around lung, breast, brain, colorectal and other types of cancer, in addition to research on areas such as DNA repair, a better understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of tumor development, and improving current biopsy procedures—all of which is trying to push through to a new understanding of tumor pathogenesis, which will hopefully lead to more effective and personalised treatments. Collectively, they also have hundreds of ongoing clinical trials, which tens of thousands of patients are able to take part in. 

In addition to research and innovation, many also provide day-to-day support for cancer sufferers—adults, adolescents and children—from providing transport to attending chemotherapy appointments to providing help with living expenses to supporting wider family members., This support is making a difference to the lives of thousands of patients. And, with cancer levels rising across the world, due in large part to lifestyle choices, there is a great emphasis on cancer prevention, educating people around the dangers of cancer and what they can do to mitigate their chances of developing cancer.



Case Study: Macmillan Cancer Support

  • Macmillan is a leading cancer charity in the UK, providing information—online and by phone—to anyone who has questions about cancer. They also provide practical support to cancer sufferers who may be off work and concerned about meeting their financial obligations. For example, Macmillan provides grants to those who might be struggling to pay their energy bills and also helps them navigate government red tape to ensure they have access to the benefits to which they are entitled. In 2021, Macmillan services reached 2.4 million people affected by cancer.
  • The funds that Candriam provides do not support one specific project but into a general pool of funds, which are then used to allocate resources where they are needed most.


  • Out of Candriam’s donation in the fight against cancer—over €975K in 2021—just over £20K was donated to Macmillan, the equivalent of:
    • Funding over 58 emergency cost of living grants.
    • Supporting Macmillan’s Support Line phone service for over 4 days, over which time Macmillan experts could give immediate advice to people needing reliable information about their diagnosis; needing help with money; help with access to doctors and other critical assistance or just providing psychological support to those who may have received a cancer diagnosis or are dealing with the news of a loved one diagnosed with cancer.
    • Over 617 Macmillan nursing hours. Cancer patients who are looked after by Macmillan nurses often have better survival rates due to their experience and specialist knowledge.

Case Study: Swiss Cancer Research

  • Since 1991, the foundation Swiss Cancer Research has been investing donations in all areas of cancer research: basic research as well as clinical, epidemiological and psychosocial research. Particular attention is paid to supporting patient-oriented research, the results of which benefit patients as directly as possible. To this end, 60% of the annual funds are steered into clinical and psychosocial research, public health, nursing sciences and health services research.
  • Over the past three decades, the foundation has provided financial support for around 1,000 research projects..


  • Candriam’s donation of just over 37K CHF is helping to fund the following project--Uncover Therapeutic Vulnerabilities in Cancer of Unknown Primary (CUP) by using Patient-derived Tumor Organoids (PdTO). CUP (Cancer of Unknown Primary) syndrome is the term used to describe tumor diseases whose metastases have been histologically (microscopic analysis of tissues) confirmed, but for which no primary tumor could be identified despite detailed diagnostics. Patients with CUP diagnosis have a poor survival rate, creating a huge need for new treatment options.
  • The work of this project will help to answer the question of whether CUP syndrome is simply a heterogeneous group of metastatic tumors with an unidentified primary disease or rather a disease entity with a distinct biology that is responsible for the disease aggressiveness and early metastasis.
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