Cancer prevention is a vital component of cancer control. Faced with striking worldwide increases in the number of new cases and the spiralling costs of care, no country can afford to treat its way out of the cancer problem. There must be an integrated approach, balancing prevention and treatment: embracing each, neglecting neither. Unfortunately, current investment in cancer prevention research and the implementation of preventive interventions is too low.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has as its mission to reduce the cancer burden worldwide through promoting international collaboration in research. The Agency addresses this mission through conducting cancer research for cancer prevention in three main areas: describing the occurrence of cancer; identifying the causes of cancer, and evaluating preventive interventions and their implementation. Each of these areas is a vital contribution to the spectrum of cancer prevention.
In the light of the emerging global cancer landscape, IARC has defined its Medium-Term Strategy (2016-2020) around cancer prevention. The Strategy encompasses the pursuit of research in epidemiology, biostatistics, and laboratory science and the convening of world-leading cancer experts to produce consensus evaluations on the causes and prevention of cancer. These two intertwined strands provide the evidence base on which national and international organizations and authorities can base cancer control plans.
In addition to conducting research, IARC, as the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has a responsibility to provide leadership in cancer prevention research and to help shape the international agenda. The IARC 2016 Conference on Global Cancer: Occurrence, Causes, and Avenues to Prevention is one initiative in this regard. These Cancer Prevention webpages provide links to multiple sources of information on cancer prevention, including materials on which to base cancer control plans, as well as resources providing opinions on priorities for the international cancer research agenda.