The European Cancer Research Managers Forum survey of spending in 2002/2003 revealed that the charity spent EUR174.3m (£119.7m), compared with the DoH's EUR39.9m (£27.4m).
This makes it second only to the German government in spending on cancer research in Europe.
"There is no doubt that government has abdicated responsibility over the past 15 years," said Professor Gordon McVie, former director of Cancer Research UK, who is now senior consultant to the European Institute of Oncology in Milan.
"Cancer Research UK is doing government's job because someone has to do it. It should use this report as leverage and show the state it needs more funding for the work it does. Government is taking advantage because it does not treat charity organisations such as Cancer Research UK as a true partner."
Kate Law, Cancer Research UK head of clinical trials, called for an equal funding partnership.
She said: "We would like the Government to provide greater support for basic research infrastructure. If it provided the salaries and facilities for doctors and scientists, it would enable us to spend more on the research.
"Given the huge investment the charitable sector makes in the cancer research field, it is increasingly important that government takes note of the advice available from expert cancer research charities in the UK."
Anthony Harrison, fellow of the health think tank charity the King's Fund, said government should not opt out of spending on areas such as cancer research because voluntary organisations are doing something about it.
"In the case of some other diseases, it is only the third sector that is doing anything at all," he said.
The DoH said it had increased funding and was co-ordinating attempts to bring together all the major UK funders.