The first step in cancer prevention is to identify the causes of human cancer, and what works in cancer prevention. In accordance with one of its fundamental missions, the Agency prepares and distributes authoritative information on the causes and prevention of cancer throughout the world.

The principles, procedures, and scientific criteria that guide the evaluations are described in the Working Procedures (Screening, Primary Interventions) of the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention. Interdisciplinary working groups of expert scientists review the published studies and evaluate the weight of the evidence that an agent or activity can act as cancer-preventive.

Agents and activities evaluated include chemopreventive agents, preventive actions, cancer screening, and tobacco control.

Funding sources for the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention have included:

  • Foundation for Promotion of Cancer Research, Japan
  • German Federal Ministry of Health
  • Ministère de la Santé, de la Jeunesse et des Sports, France
  • Institut National du Cancer, France
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, through the Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention (ACCP)
  • World Cancer Research Fund.
  • American Cancer Society, USA
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA

IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention News


IARC Handbooks Volume 16: Absence of Excess Body Fatness

10 October 2018
We are pleased to announce that the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention Volume 16 is now available online. The volume contains the detailed assessments of the cancer-preventive effects of the absence of excess body fatness. The book is available for free download in PDF format. The print version will be available for purchase later this year.

Q&A on Advisory Group to Recommend an Update to the Working Procedures

13 June 2018
We are pleased to announce that a Q&A document relating to the Advisory Group to Recommend an Update to the Working Procedures is now available online. The Call for Public Comments is now open, and comments should be submitted using the Public Comments Form.

Advisory Group to Recommend an Update to the Working Procedures

11 May 2018
In 2019, IARC will amend the Working Procedures of the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention. The Working Procedures describe the principles and procedures used in developing IARC Handbooks, including the scientific criteria that guide the evaluations. The objective is to convene an international group of experts to reflect on the scientific developments and procedural changes that have occurred in the fields of primary and secondary prevention, and establish strong guidance for future Handbooks. For details, please see Upcoming Meetings.

IARC Handbooks Volume 17

27 March 2018
A summary of the evaluations made during this meeting has now been published in The New England Journal of Medicine as "The IARC perspective on colorectal cancer screening". The detailed assessments will be published as Volume 17 of the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention. A new table of evaluations has been posted.
Read article
, Read IARC Press Release
Read the Q&A on the Handbooks Volume 17 evaluations

IARC Handbooks Volume 17

8 March 2017
IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention
Volume 17: Colorectal cancer screening
14-21 November 2017
IARC, Lyon, France
Read more

IARC Handbooks Volume 17: Colorectal cancer screening

28 October 2016
We are pleased to announce the meeting for the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention Volume 17, which will take place on 14-21 November 2017. For more information, please see Upcoming Meetings.

IARC Handbooks Volume 15: Breast Cancer Screening

14 October 2016
We are pleased to announce that Volume 15: Breast Cancer Screening of the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention series is now also available for purchase in print, PDF, and EPUB formats. The volume contains the detailed assessments of the cancer-preventive and adverse effects of different methods of screening for breast cancer.



IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention Publications


IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention Volume 16 - Absence of Excess Body Fatness

10 October 2018
A Working Group of 21 independent experts from 8 countries, convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in April 2016, reviewed the scientific evidence and assessed the cancer-preventive effects of the absence of excess body fatness. Read more