Research Groups

Early Detection and Prevention - Quality Assurance Group

Current Research Topics:

European Cancer Network (ECN) for Screening and Prevention

The primary objective of the European Cancer Network (ECN) for Screening and Prevention is to promote best practice in screening and complementary methods of primary cancer prevention in Europe through pan-European and international cooperation and collaboration in development and implementation of quality assurance guidelines. The network is coordinated by the Quality Assurance Group (QAS) at IARC and has led the development of updates or supplements to the European guidelines for quality assurance in breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening. With ECN participants, QAS has also promoted pan-European collaboration in the screening work packages of the recent European Partnership for Action Against Cancer (EPAAC) of the EU Health Programme and in the current joint action of the EU Health Programme on cancer control (CanCon).

Co-development of the fourth edition of the European Code Against Cancer

The European Code Against Cancer is an initiative of the European Commission to inform people about actions they can take for themselves or their families to reduce their risk of cancer. The current, fourth edition consists of 12 recommendations that most people can follow without any special skills or advice. The more recommendations people follow, the lower their risk of cancer will be. It has been estimated that almost half of all deaths due to cancer in Europe could be avoided if everyone followed the recommendations.

The first edition of the Code was published in 1987. The fourth edition was prepared in 2012–2013 by cancer specialists, scientists, and other experts from across the European Union in a project coordinated by IARC, with financial support from the EU Health Programme. In formulating the recommendations, the experts took into account the latest scientific evidence available.
The fourth edition of the Code and “Questions and Answers” that provide additional information about each recommendation and related aspects of cancer prevention are available on the IARC website ( The QAS group head served as co-PI of the project to develop the fourth edition. QAS staff members also served on the project secretariat and in a number of working groups.

Reporting on implementation of cancer screening in the European Union

The preparation of the first report on Implementation of Cancer Screening in the European Union was coordinated by QAS, and it was published in 2008 (von Karsa et al., 2008). The second report is being prepared in a project co-financed by the EU Health Programme. Key collaborators include participants in the European Cancer Network and staff at the Department of Cancer Screening and Unit of Cancer Epidemiology, CPO Piemonte and AO City of Health and Science of Turin, Italy.

Collaboration with WHO in guideline development and the planning, piloting, and implementation of population-based cancer screening programmes

QAS staff members have collaborated with WHO Headquarters in the development of recent guidance for cervical cancer prevention, including cervical cancer screening, and a position paper on mammography screening. QAS also collaborates with WHO Headquarters, the WHO Regional Office for Europe, and WHO offices in Europe in providing scientific and technical support in the planning, piloting, and implementation of population-based cancer screening and primary prevention programmes, and in requisite training.