In a worldwide population of 6 billion, in the year 2000, approximately 10 million cancers were diagnosed, and there were an estimated 6.2 million cancer deaths. Whereas the universality of cancer incidence and mortality is established, the burden of cancer by type or organ site is distributed unequally between developing and industrialized nations. Populations in developing countries are disproportionately affected by cancers in which infectious agents are causal. Our review of advances in cancer epidemiology underscores the complexity of pathogenic mechanisms mediated by chronic inflammation, obesity, and gene-environment interactions as in tobacco and alcohol carcinogenesis. Ultimately, the implementation of effective cancer control interventions that will serve to alleviate the cancer burden must integrate basic and applied research in the behavioral, social, biomedical, and population sciences.