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Cancer control

What is cancer control ?

Some 10 million people die from cancer globally every year. The disease places an enormous burden on countries and communities. Cancer control aims to lessen this burden. It includes cancer prevention, early detection and diagnosis, treatment and palliative care.  

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Many cancers can be prevented by reducing the risk factors, or through vaccination and screening. Others can be detected and diagnosed early in their development, treated and cured. Even with more advanced cancers, pain can be eased, the progression of the cancer slowed, and patients and their families helped to cope.

Cancer control aims to reduce the incidence, morbidity and mortality of cancer and to improve the quality of life of cancer patients in a defined population, through the systematic implementation of evidence-based interventions for prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and palliative care.
– Cancer control, Knowledge into action (WHO Guide for effective programmes) | Planning module

The cancer control continuum

The cancer control continuum

How does cancer control work ?

Cancer control programmes bring together people and organisations to coordinate actions, policies and services. They agree on the most effective solutions for the wider population, while taking into account the specific needs of subgroups that may face disproportionate rates of cancer and mortality. 

A cancer control programme is successful when it ensures that everyone in the community (or country) is motivated to live a healthy lifestyle, is given the best possible chance to prevent cancer and has access to affordable and effective treatment and care.

This is not yet a reality everywhere. The number of cancer cases and deaths are increasing the fastest in low- and middle-income countries due to ageing populations, a shift to urban lifestyles and a growing exposure to risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol consumption. Health care systems are often under-resourced and governments have not been able to make cancer control a priority.

In high-income countries, there are important differences in people’s ability to access cancer services and the level of care is not the same for everyone. This leads to a higher number of cancer cases and deaths in some populations.  

Effective (and adequately financed) cancer control plans are needed everywhere to stop the growing cancer burden and to help more people survive this disease regardless of race, age, gender, location, social or economic status. 

Read more about cancer control and cancer planning
Boston, World Cancer Leaders' Summit, Cancer
21 February 2020
Leadership in Action in Latin America
23 October 2019

Cancer control in LATAM: leaders discuss challenges and successes

Over 50 leaders recently came together in Mexico City to exchange the most recent developments in cancer control pertinent to their countries and reinforce regional collaborations.

People smiling in African village
5 November 2019

Cancer control in Africa: paving the way to Universal Health Coverage

Where you live still determines your chances of surviving cancer. There are striking differences in the mortality rates and in the prevalence of certain cancer types across the world.

Last update: 
Friday 19 March 2021
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