There is a large global burden of cancer attributable to infections (about 15% of all cancer cases worldwide, according to recent IARC estimates), particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Given that infections are amenable to the development of preventive tools, research in the Section of Infections (INF) on infectious agents and cancer makes a key contribution to the mission of IARC.
The Section has two groups: the Infections and Cancer Biology Group (ICB) and the Infections and Cancer Epidemiology Group (ICE).
The broad range of research work in INF spans the entire pathway from discovery to application in public health policy. Activities in ICB focus more on the establishment of novel associations between infections and human cancers, whereas research in ICE focuses more on the epidemiology of well-established, or strongly suspected, infectious human carcinogens. There are certain topics that are specific to the expertise of ICB, such as the transforming mechanisms of cutaneous human papillomavirus (HPV) types and the identification of new viruses, and other topics that are specific to the expertise of ICE, such as research programmes on the global burden of cancer attributable to infections and modelling of cervical cancer control. There are also strong interactions, particularly in the domain of mucosal HPV types and cancer risk, which is a long-standing research interest for both groups. The multiplex diagnostic platform for oncogenic infections developed by ICB for international epidemiological studies is central to several ICE studies on HPV and cancer, most notably those on HPV vaccine effectiveness in low- and middle-income countries.