This year, 570 people as part of 45 teams will take part in the 22-hour relay challenge at the Monkton Stadium, in Jarrow.
The relay began with a lap of honour which saw 50 cancer survivors walk the track led by a Boldon teenager.
Lily Slater, a brain tumour survivor, has taken on the role of cutting the starting ribbon at 11 of the 13 Relay for Life events.
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The 15-year-old Epiniay School student was just three when she was diagnosed with medullblastoma, a type of brain cancer.
Her mum, Shirley Slater, said: ‘The event is part of our life now, we do it every year.”
Ann Walsh, event chairwoman, said: “It’s getting bigger and better.
“You always wonder what the response will be like now we’ve been going for so long. But I look around and see faces of people who were at our very first event to people who are taking part for the first time.
“I think we’ve raised almost £60,000 already coming into the event today.
“I just love it, it’s a real community event. It’s not just for men, women, or kids. It’s something a whole family can get involved in.
“It’s fantastic to see so many children taking part – they’re the people that will be carrying it on.”
Among the 570 fundraisers were Dorothy Reed, 68, and Carol Foster, 66, who were walking as part of the Newtown Circus group.
Dorothy, of Hebburn, said: “I lost my husband, Gary, just two years ago to cancer. I also used to be a theatre nurse so I saw lots of people who were getting surgery due to cancer.
“I’m retired now and I thought this would be a fantastic way to raise money for such a worthy cause.
“It’s the first time I’ve taken part and it probably won’t be the last. It’s such a lovely atmosphere.”
Carol, also of Hebburn, lost her two best friends to cancer and after completing the Pier to Pier Walk earlier this year decided to sign up for the event.
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