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Cancer Prevention Initiatives


Cancer prevention includes public policies and actions taken to reduce the risk of developing cancer.

ESMO’s promotes cancer prevention within its mission to improve the quality of cancer care and reduce the number of deaths from cancer.  An ESMO position paper on ‘The perspective and role of the medical oncologist in cancer prevention’ outlines the 3 levels of cancer and how medical oncologists can contribute to each level, as well as political calls for change.

The global cancer burden is expected to rise to 29.5 million cases and 16 million deaths by 2040, making it necessary to intensify cancer prevention efforts now to bring those numbers down. If 40% of cancers are preventable, then theoretically we can reduce the number of new cases in the next 20 years from 29.5 million to 17.8 million, saving almost 12 million lives.

Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and its specialized cancer agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) provide evidence-based research and guidance on the causes of cancer and how to prevent it.

WHO has published its first-ever WHO Report on Cancer: Setting priorities, investing wisely and providing care for all, to raise awareness that cancer is a preventable and controllable public health priority globally, and there are effective public health strategies for evidence-based decision-making.

IARC publishes the World Cancer Report: Cancer Research for Cancer Prevention, emphasizing that prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer. The IARC report provides the most up-to-date science on cancer, while the WHO report indicates how that science can be translated into public policies. 

To monitor progress and tailor prevention policies to local needs, countries should collect standardized, accurate and comprehensive data in national cancer registries, which will allow them to adapt their cancer policies to reduce, and promote awareness of, the risks of developing cancer.

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