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ESMO and IARC have joined forces to improve cancer prevention worldwide.

ESMO is supporting IARC in the development of their online learning platform which integrates all research for cancer prevention in one easy-to-access point.


IARC’s  World Cancer Report Updates Learning Platform offers freely accessible learning material based on selected content from the IARC 2020 World Cancer Report, the most comprehensive resource on cancer prevention published every five years. The goal of the platform is to turn the latest research into policy and practical measures to help stakeholders in control cancer. It is also designed to enlarge the base of doctors who are properly educated and trained in key prevention measures, allowing them to provide guidance to patients as well as to act as role models.

As this is a freely accessible resource, with vital information on cancer prevention and research, ESMO would encourage you to register for the portal, in order to receive direct updates, including those on live events and self-paced resources.

Access to on demand webinars and other resources related to each webinar:


The fifth instalment in the World Cancer Report Updates webinar series was broadcast live on Tuesday 16 November 2021 at 11:00 CET. The topic of the webinar was Challenges and Opportunities for Primary Cancer Prevention.

The event, lasted  one hour and 20 minutes, and included two presentations and a question and answer session. Dr Béatrice Lauby-Secretan, a scientist in the Evidence Synthesis and Classification Branch at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), chaired the event.

In the first presentation, Dr David Hunter, Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, reviewed the scientific evidence about the role of a number of modifiable risk factors and protective factors in the incidence of and mortality from some of the most common cancer types around the world, such as lung cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer. He discussed the current status of that evidence and the progress that has been made.

In the second presentation, Dr Bernard W. Stewart, Professor at the University of New South Wales, Australia, and co-editor of the 2020 World Cancer Report, discussed perspectives in cancer prevention beyond reduced exposure to carcinogens. Decreased risk of lung cancer after smoking cessation epitomizes primary cancer prevention. Comparable responses to alcohol consumption, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection remain crucial. Reduced cancer incidence may also be targeted for risk factors not involving recognized carcinogens. More broadly, health impacts due to inequalities offer the prospect of reducing a spectrum of diseases. However, even the immediate goal of avoiding exposure to carcinogens may fail because of beliefs and expectations.

The World Cancer Report Updates webinar series aims to provide new perspectives or present new research, to complement the large variety of educational resources based on selected content of World Cancer Report. These educational resources are freely accessible from the World Cancer Report Updates learning platform, which was developed with the support of and in collaboration with ESMO.


What are the consequences of COVID-19 for cancer screening? What challenges have been encountered by countries? What could be turned into an opportunity, and what lessons have been learned? This webinar addressed these questions and provided examples from low-income and high-income countries. Please note that to view the recording of this webinar you will be asked to enroll with the IARC learning platform.


Data are rapidly accruing on the impressive effectiveness of HPV vaccination programmes, including strong herd immunity effects and reduction in cervical cancer rates. This webinar presents the impact of HPV vaccination in Australia, which implemented one of the earliest and most successful vaccination programmes. It also provides an up-to-date picture of global progress in the implementation of HPV vaccination, with a focus on challenges in low- and middle-income countries.


Obesity is an established risk factor for cancer at 13 anatomical sites. This webinar provides an overview of current understanding on the epidemiology and biology of the obesity–cancer relationship as well as important outstanding research questions. It also addresses the challenges of current and future interventions aimed at breaking the obesity–cancer link and explores what can be done at both the societal and individual level to tackle the obesity crisis and its impact on the cancer burden.


People who have lower socioeconomic status or are part of marginalized groups tend to have a higher incidence of certain types of cancers and higher mortality from most cancer types compared with people who have higher socioeconomic status. This webinar provides an overview of how the phenomenon of inequalities in cancer is shaped, and of how socioeconomic inequalities affect all countries worldwide and all citizens within each country. The experts also touch on strategies to tackle inequality in cancer.

About the IARC World Cancer Report

The IARC 2020 World Cancer Report: Cancer Research for Cancer Preventionnotes that cancer is the ‘first or second cause of premature death (ages 30-69) in 134 of 183 countries’.

According to the IARC Global Cancer Observatory  cancer is expected to increase from 2018 to 2040, from an incidence of 18.1 million to 29.5 million with growth in the number of deaths from 9.6 million to 16.4 million. A main message of the IARC report is that prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer. The report offers a wealth of knowledge including ‘the most comprehensive overview of relevant research available to date, ranging from descriptive etiology, cellular and molecular biology, toxicology and pathology through to behavioural and social science. Key chapters include discussions on the impact of inequalities in cancer, vaccination and screening, genomic individual susceptibility to cancer and the finer identification of those at risk, which may allow ‘precision cancer prevention’.’ The section on ‘inequalities that affect cancer prevention’ is new in the 2020 edition and explains how socioeconomic inequalities can limit cancer prevention impact. The IARC report is complemented by other publications such as the  WHO Classification of Tumours series (also known as the WHO Blue Books); the IARC volumes of Cancer Incidence in Five Continents, and the associated GLOBOCAN database document data on incidence, prevalence, mortality, and trends for multiple cancer types accessible online through the IARC Global Cancer Observatory.

The IARC report provides the most up-to-date science on cancer, and was published at the same time as the WHO 2020 Report on Cancer: setting priorities, investing wisely and providing care for all which indicates how that science can be translated into public policies.

The WHO and IARC reports provide a reliable resource for ESMO members for evidence-based data on the burden of cancer, its prevention, and public policy recommendations governments and health authorities can implement to save lives.

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