Working Procedures


A wide range of findings must be taken into account before a particular intervention can be recognized as preventing cancer, and a systematic approach to data presentation has been adopted for Handbooks evaluations.

The available studies are summarized by the Working Group, with particular regard to the qualitative aspects discussed below. In general, numerical findings are indicated as they appear in the original report; units are converted when necessary for easier comparison. The Working Group may conduct additional analyses of the published data and use them in their assessment of the evidence; the results of such supplementary analyses are given in square brackets. When an important aspect of a study that directly impinges on its interpretation should be brought to the attention of the reader, a Working Group comment is given in square brackets.

The IARC Handbooks evaluate a wide range of interventions for primary prevention, including those involving chemical or pharmacological agents (e.g. drugs, vitamins, minerals, other nutritional supplements), immunological agents (vaccination), foods, behaviour changes (e.g. weight control, physical activity), and public-health policies (e.g. smoking restrictions). The structure of a Handbook typically comprises the following sections:

1. Exposure data
2. Studies of cancer prevention in humans
3. Studies of cancer prevention in experimental animals
4. Mechanistic and other relevant data
5. Summary
6. Evaluation and rationale

In addition, a section entitled “General Remarks” at the front of the volume discusses the reasons why the interventions were scheduled for evaluation, and key issues the Working Group encountered during the meeting.

The following part of the Working Procedures discusses the types of evidence considered and summarized in each section of a Handbook, followed by the scientific criteria that guide the evaluations.

Posted 5 July 2016