Donate now

Section of Cancer Surveillance


The Section of Cancer Surveillance (CSU) has a global mandate to collect, analyse, and disseminate cancer data to inform cancer control action, while seeking new ways to interact, innovate, and expand across its interlinked core areas of activity. The Section’s founding principles remain: to ensure that locally recorded high-quality cancer data are of benefit to governments in informing priorities for national cancer control. Equally, CSU aims to serve as a reference to the global cancer community in the provision of national cancer surveillance indicators, developed through its collaborative research programme.

CSU builds on its long-standing expertise and track record in cancer registration and descriptive epidemiology, aligning its activities with the evolving cancer agenda. The Section has as a focus the support of and advocacy for cancer registries worldwide and, through this work with the International Association of Cancer Registries (IACR) and the Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development (GICR), the provision and interpretation of global cancer indicators through its collaborative research programme.

Primary aims:

Development of global cancer indicators

The Section compiles, estimates, and reports cancer statistics through its flagship projects and databases. Alongside the provision of public goods (e.g. GLOBOCAN estimates and the Cancer Incidence in Five Continents series), additional informative measures that are being developed through CSU’s research programme are continually phased in to the Global Cancer Observatory (GCO). Three major objectives are to: (1) increase the global utility and use of the databases held at CSU; (2) develop equivalent global childhood cancer estimates (GLOBOKID); and (3) integrate CSU’s research findings into the GCO platform, highlighting disparities and economic impacts.

Cancer registry support and development

Led by IARC, the GICR is a collaboration with key international partners to accelerate improvements in the coverage, quality, and use of data from population-based cancer registries worldwide, to better inform cancer control. The GICR is structured to provide support to registries in low- and middle-income countries that is easy to access, readily available, and targeted. The key principle is the provision of assistance that contributes to the development of in-country capacity for cancer surveillance.

Coordination with the IACR, as a key partner of the GICR, is important to reduce duplication, to provide clarity to members, and to achieve the mutual goal of sustainable expansion of high-quality registries. Equally, efforts will be intensified to develop joint activities with WHO at global, regional, and national levels that support the development of effective surveillance policies.

Descriptive epidemiology of cancer

The Section aims to combine core indicators (risk factors, incidence, mortality, survival) together with other surveillance measures (attributable fractions, prevalence, disability-adjusted life years [DALYs]) and cancer outcomes (life years lost to cancer, economic consequences of cancer) to collectively provide an evidence base for planning and evaluating interventions across the cancer control spectrum. Peer-reviewed research is often co-developed with online tools. A key goal is predicting the future burden of cancer in the long term, by modelling scenarios of the impact of various prevention strategies.

Close Reading Mode