IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention

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.

In 1995, the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention were launched to complement the IARC Monographs’ evaluations of carcinogenic hazards with evaluations on the scientific evidence on preventive agents and primary and secondary interventions.

The amended working procedures and the evaluation scheme of the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention closely mirror those of the IARC Monographs. 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. 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.

Since the inception of the series, on average one volume per year has been developed, including topics such as:

  • Chemopreventive agents (carotenoids; vitamin A; retinoids)
  • Preventive actions (use of sunscreens; weight control and physical activity; consumption of fruit and vegetables)
  • Effectiveness of screening for breast and cervical cancer
  • Effectiveness of tobacco control (reversal of risk after quitting smoking; smoke-free policies; tax and price policies).

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.