Research Groups

Early Detection and Prevention - Prevention and Implementation Group


Every year almost 7 million people die from cancer, with the majority (75%) of cases occurring in developing countries. This proportion is increasing rapidly with population ageing in those areas. Using what we already know about cancer etiology and effective interventions, it is possible to prevent over 30% of premature deaths from cancer and to cure or prolong survival in another 30% with early detection and proper treatment.

Some examples of preventive interventions include smoking cessation efforts, promotion of healthy diets, exercise and weight control programs, vaccination against hepatitis B to control liver cancer and human papillomavirus to prevent cervical, anal and possibly oropharyngeal cancer. In addition, screening for cervical, colorectal, breast, oral and stomach cancer have been shown to be effective when massively implemented. In the case of cervical cancer for example, important advances in both primary and secondary prevention have been made in recent years. Several new preventive interventions offer enormous hope for reducing incidence and mortality from this disease, which has been extremely difficult to control in developing countries, where it remains one of the leading causes of cancer death.

For many cancers, there is still a need to develop safe and affordable preventive interventions. In the case of stomach cancer, another common malignancy, despite ample knowledge about the role of Helicobacter pylori in its etiology and the success of expensive endoscopy-based programs, there is a clear need to investigate the potential of more affordable interventions, like screening with markers of atrophic gastritis or eradication of Helicobacter pylori, for example. For most interventions, there is a need to conduct research on how best to implement them in different socio-economic and cultural settings.

Many developing countries have been unable to establish adequate cancer prevention programs for lack of technical assistance and resources. There is a need to disseminate information on how to apply current knowledge to cancer prevention, to generate new data to improve available interventions and to investigate new approaches to control the major cancers.