The World Cancer Report and the burden of oral cancer

Eur J Cancer Prev. 2004 Apr;13(2):139-42. doi: 10.1097/00008469-200404000-00008.


The WHO has recently provided the most comprehensive global examination of cancer to date, through the publication of the World Cancer Report (WCR). According to IARC-WHO estimates, cancer rates are set to increase at an alarming rate, from 10 million new cases globally in 2000, to 15 million in 2020. However, the report states that we have the opportunity to stem the predicted sharp increase in new cancer cases by taking action now, especially through planning effective cancer control strategies, such as reducing tobacco consumption, suggesting healthy lifestyle and diet, and performing early detection through screening. Although cancer of the oral cavity is largely related to lifestyle and can be easily detected and diagnosed at early stages through a 5 min visual inspection of the oral mucosa, actual figures concerning its prevention and early detection are dismal. Most oral cancers are detected at a late stage, requiring complex, costly and often ineffective therapies. Similarly, current research, educational and financial resources are focused on procedures burdened by high cost, high morbidity and unacceptable high mortality. Here we suggest that it is time to change this common point of view towards this disease and to alter this trend, stressing that there is no other oncologic specialty in which the WCR preventive guidelines could be applied in such an easy and effective manner, as in the field of oral cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Mouth Neoplasms / economics*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • World Health Organization