The growing burden of cancer among several major noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) requires national implementation of tailored public health surveillance. For many emerging economies where emphasis has traditionally been placed on the surveillance of communicable diseases, it is critical to understand the specificities of NCD surveillance and, within it, of cancer surveillance. We propose a general framework for cancer surveillance that permits monitoring the core components of cancer control. We examine communalities in approaches to the surveillance of other major NCDs as well as communicable diseases, illustrating key differences in the function, coverage, and reporting in each system. Although risk factor surveys and vital statistics registration are the foundation of surveillance of NCDs, population-based cancer registries play a unique fundamental role specific to cancer surveillance, providing indicators of population-based incidence and survival. With an onus now placed on governments to collect these data as part of the monitoring of NCD targets, the integration of cancer registries into existing and future NCD surveillance strategies is a vital requirement in all countries worldwide. The Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development, endorsed by the World Health Organization, provides a means to enhance cancer surveillance capacity in low- and middle-income countries.
Keywords: neoplasms; noncommunicable diseases; registries; surveillance; world health.
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