Research Sections

Section of Cancer Surveillance

A key objective of the Section of Cancer Surveillance (CSU) is to measure the global burden of cancer. IARC is the definitive reference source for the provision of information concerning worldwide cancer vital statistics and this activity is coordinated within CSU.

Critical to this objective is the production of Cancer Incidence in Five Continents (CI5), which IARC has published in nine successive volumes over the last 45 years. This publication, produced in collaboration with population-based cancer registries around the world, contains comparable worldwide cancer incidence. Cancer Incidence in Five Continents has become an invaluable tool for supporting both cancer research and national programmes for cancer control. The latest Volume (IX) includes data available in the time period 1998-2002. These data and those from the entire series are made publicly available through the CancerMondial website at: CancerMondial also gives access to cancer mortality data, provided by the World Health Organisation, together with other relevant software tools including GLOBOCAN 2008, which allows the production of cancer incidence and mortality estimates for all countries of the world.

In order to increase the worldwide coverage of cancer registry data, CSU also provides programmes of support for cancer registries. This activity includes providing administrative facilities and a secretariat to the International Association of Cancer Registries (IACR, and to the European Network of Cancer Registries (ENCR, CSU staff are involved in conducting site visits to assess the feasibility of establishing new cancer registries and to provide developmental advice to existing registries, particularly in low and middle income countries. CSU arranges training courses on cancer registration and its application to epidemiology. CSU has also developed the CanReg5 software package, now used in more than 50 countries, and provides training in its use.

Alongside the above activities, CSU conducts a programme of research focused on descriptive epidemiology. Core components include the study of temporal trends and patterns in the occurrence of and outcomes from cancer, as well as the development of methodological approaches to their analysis.