Research Sections

Section of Cancer Surveillance

The key focus of the Section of Cancer Surveillance (CSU) is the systematic and ongoing pursuit of global cancer data and statistics for cancer control action, in keeping with one of the primary aims of IARC — to describe and elucidate cancer occurrence worldwide. The Section coordinates the collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of indicators that capture the changing magnitude and profile of the disease by means of three essential and complementary areas of activity:

  • Cancer registry support and development: CSU’s long-standing collaborative relationships with population-based cancer registries (PBCRs) worldwide — members of the International Association of Cancer Registries (IACR) — remain vital to improving the availability, validity, and timeliness of cancer data at the national, regional, and global levels. Through the Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development (GICR;, CSU aims to markedly increase the quality and availability of cancer incidence data in low- and middle-income countries. Coordinated by IARC, GICR brings together a group of major international and national agencies that are committed to working collaboratively to improve the level of cancer surveillance worldwide. Reference centres called IARC Regional Hubs advocate for the central role of PBCRs in national cancer control planning and are becoming operational in six regions to provide targeted support to countries in planning and developing their PBCR programmes.

  • Global cancer indicators: CSU compiles, estimates, and reports cancer statistics through its flagship projects and databases. The Cancer Incidence in Five Continents series and the GLOBOCAN project provide international compendiums of high-quality registry data and national estimates of incidence, mortality, and prevalence, respectively. The Section is also focusing on the development of the Global Cancer Observatory, an interactive and user-friendly set of web-based analytics tools designed to optimally inform cancer control and cancer research activities.

  • Descriptive epidemiology of cancer: CSU aims to compile a diverse and comprehensive set of collaborative studies that describe and interpret the changing magnitude and the transitional nature of cancer profiles around the world, through observation of variations by geography and over time. Novel research areas under development include the assessment of indicators that elucidate cancer’s role as a major cause of premature death, a barrier to old age, and a chronic condition linked with social and economic development.