Cancer is a leading global cause of death and disability, responsible for approximately 7.6 million deaths each year. Around one-third of cancers are attributable to a small number of preventable risk factors - including smoking and the harmful consumption of alcohol - for which effective interventions exist at the population level. Despite this, progress in global cancer control has been slow and patchy, largely due to the weak and fragmented nature of both the global and national responses. This has been exacerbated by the economic crisis and the tendency for other challenges involving food, energy security and climate change to overshadow cancer on the global policy agenda. This paper reviews the global burden of cancer, and summarizes knowledge about effective interventions. Responding to the global challenge of cancer requires a comprehensive and integrated approach that includes legislation and regulation. A re-invigorated approach to global cancer prevention, within the broader context of non-communicable disease prevention, is an important pathway to global health and development.
Copyright © 2011 The Royal Society for Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.