N° 181
6 December 2007 

Unique source of cancer incidence from around the world

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is pleased to announce the publication of the ninth volume in the series of Cancer Incidence in Five Continents (CI5).

Over four decades of registration efforts

This series, started in the 1960s, provides information about the incidence of cancer in different populations around the world with high-quality incidence data and has become the recognised reference source on the incidence of cancer around the world. The ninth volume has a wider coverage than before presenting data from around the year 2000 not only for entire populations but also for sub-populations living in the same geographic area.

More, better-quality data emerging from low-resource countries

Data are presented from low-income and medium-income countries as well as high-income countries and this volume sees an expansion of geographical coverage, with data appearing for the first time from eight countries in Africa (Egypt, Tunisia), Asia (Bahrain, Cyprus, Malaysia, Turkey) and Europe (Bulgaria, Serbia). In addition, there is a greatly enhanced contribution from cancer registries in several countries, notably from the United States, Korea and Austria.

This international effort, in collaboration with the International Association of Cancer Registries, presents its information based on 12 million cancer cases from 300 populations in 60 countries around the world which represents a total of 11% of the world’s population.

Web-based rather than cumbersome print volumes: easier access to tabulated data

With this volume, much more use is made of the web rather than continued reliance on the printed volume allowing the user to analyse, present or export the information of their interest. Still present are the familiar tables most often requested by users showing age-specific incidence rates by cancer site and gender, and the distribution of cancers by histological type. Age-standardised rates are calculated and presented thus providing a unique opportunity to compare incidence rates from around the world, by cancer type and ethnic group, and across volumes.

Large variations in patterns of incidence

This current volume presents incidence data from populations all over the world for which good quality data are available. Scanning through the information gives a clear presentation of the changing cancer patterns worldwide and there are frequently ten-fold variations between high and low incidence populations included in the volume.

In women, breast cancer incidence varies from the highest rate (118.9 cases per 100,000 population in Hawaii) to the lowest recorded rate of 16 in Karunagappaly (India); while colon cancer varies from a high of 31.0 in USA, Missouri (United States) to a low of 1.6 in Chennai (India).

In men, prostate cancer varies from a high of 216 in the Black population of Detroit (United States) to a low of 2.1 in Harbin (China) and lung cancer varies from 96.6 in the Black population of New Orleans (United States) to a low of 7.9 in Quito (Ecuador).

Incidence data a leverage for Public Health Policies and Action

CI5 provides a basis for cancer control and etiological research by quantifying the magnitude of the cancer burden in various populations and allowing changes and variations to be seen. Cancer incidence data are the backbone of a variety of epidemiological studies, which aim at identifying and clarifying the role of aetiological factors in cancer. These studies form a basis for planning, prioritizing and monitoring cancer control activities, and provide important information for developing prudent public health policies. Such large variations give great hope for the possibilities of cancer prevention in that identification of the factors responsible for the high rates may allow suitable candidates for intervention, and subsequent prevention, to emerge.

Continual need for more, reliable data

Looking ahead, with the rapidly rising cancer burden in low- and medium-income countries more high-quality incidence data are needed from regions and countries in such settings. Reliable data are needed to establish the cancer burden and to monitor its evolution in all parts of the world, particularly in response to cancer control activities. Nurturing the development of cancer registration in such countries is of major importance and one which the International Agency for Research on Cancer is addressing.

Without the great efforts and dedication of cancer registries around the world, staff in the registries and at IARC, as well as all those involved in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, information on the worldwide incidence of cancer would not be available to all those concerned in the fight against cancer.

World Health Organization
International Agency for Research on Cancer

Organisation mondiale de la Santé
Centre international de Recherche sur le Cancer

150, cours Albert-Thomas 69372 Lyon Cedex 08 (France)
Telephone: 33 472 738 485     Facsimile: 33 472 738 311