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 Preambles to the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention (Primary Prevention, Secondary 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
  • Medical Research Council, United Kingdom
  • Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Canada

IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention News


Launch of new WHO guidelines for screening and treatment to prevent cervical cancer

6 July 2021
A webinar organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) is being held today to launch the updated WHO guidance for screening and treatment of cervical pre-cancer lesions. The webinar is titled "Reaching the 2030 targets for cervical cancer elimination: new WHO recommendations for screening and treatment". These new WHO guidelines are based in part on the consensus evaluations of the Working Group for IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention Volume 18: Cervical Cancer Screening. Dr Béatrice Lauby-Secretan, Head of the IARC Handbooks programme, will make a presentation during the webinar.

Scoping meeting for IARC Handbooks Volume 19: Oral Cancer Prevention

25 February 2021
The IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention programme is holding a scoping meeting for Volume 19: Oral Cancer Prevention this week (23–26 February 2021). In the scoping meeting, seven international experts, together with members of the IARC/WHO Secretariat, are providing input to help define the scope of this volume of the IARC Handbooks, which will provide a first-time evaluation of primary and secondary prevention of oral cancer. The Working Group meeting for this volume will take place in December 2021.

IARC HandbooksVolume 19: Oral Cancer Prevention

16 December 2020
We are pleased to announce that the meeting for the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention Volume 19: Oral Cancer Prevention will take place on 9–14 December 2021. For more information, please see Upcoming Meetings.

IARC HandbooksVolume 19: Oral Cancer Prevention

17 November 2020
The IARC Handbooks programme is pleased to announce the meeting for IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention Volume 19: Oral Cancer Prevention, which will take place in November–December 2021.

Oral cancer is highly prevalent in South-East Asia and is linked to the habit of chewing smokeless tobacco products and betel quid/areca nut. The IARC Handbooks programme will provide a first-time evaluation of primary and secondary prevention of oral cancer, including the benefit of quitting chewing in reducing oral cancer incidence, and possibly mortality, as well as the efficacy and effectiveness of current screening methods; the implementation of bans on sale and other policies may also be evaluated.

This volume of the IARC Handbooks will play a major role in the regulation of smokeless tobacco in the South-East Asia region and will help fight a major public health problem. In addition, it will fit into the World Health Organization (WHO) mission of tobacco control, feeding into the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), as well as into IARC's mission to serve low- and middle-income countries.

Meeting for IARC Handbooks Volume 18: Cervical Cancer Screening to be held remotely

30 September 2020
Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the meeting for the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention Volume 18 will be held remotely on 12–16 October 2020. Following two sets of Subgroup sessions, held in June and September, the Working Group will meet in plenary sessions to review the Subgroup drafts and develop the consensus evaluations. For more information, please see Upcoming Meetings.

Postponement of meeting for IARC HandbooksVolume 18: Cervical Cancer Screening

3 April 2020
The meeting for the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention Volume 18, which was scheduled to take place on 23-30 June 2020, has been postponed to 12-16 October 2020. For more information, please see Upcoming Meetings.

Instructions to Authors for IARC Handbooks – Screening

21 February 2020
We are pleased to announce that the Instructions for Authors for the Preparation of Drafts for the IARC Handbooks – Screening are now available online.

Report of the Advisory Group to Recommend an Update to the Preamble to the IARC Handbooks

18 December 2019
We are pleased to announce that the Report of the Advisory Group is now available online.

Revised Preambles to the IARC Handbooks

11 October 2019
We are pleased to announce that the revised Preambles to the IARC Handbooks are now available online.



IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention Publications


IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention Volume 17 - Colorectal Cancer Screening

3 June 2019
A Working Group of 23 independent experts from 15 countries, convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in November 2017, reviewed the scientific evidence and assessed the cancer-preventive and adverse effects of various methods of screening for colorectal cancer. Read more