Global Key Message

  • Investment in the reduction of a population’s exposure to cancer risk factors is a long-term investment in the health of the population, which will also reduce the overall burden on the health system.
  • Effective cancer prevention at the national level begins with a national cancer control plan (NCCP) that responds to a country’s cancer burden and cancer risk factor prevalence.
  • A NCCP is designed to implement evidence-based resource-appropriate policies and programmes that reduce the level of exposure to risk factors for cancer and strengthen the capacity of individuals of all ages to adopt lifestyle choices that promote good health for life.

The Facts – Key data

  • With the right strategies, more than one in every three cancers can be prevented.
  • Cancer and other high-prevalence non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are linked to common risk factors, namely tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, an unhealthy diet, and a lack of physical activity.
  • The most common risk factor, tobacco use, is linked to 71% of all lung cancer deaths, and accounts for at least 22% of all cancer deaths. Alcohol is also a known risk factor for cancer and is strongly linked with an increased risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, bowel, liver and breast.

WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2015.

Meeting the Challenge

A life-course approach to prevention is a core principle of the WHO Global Action Plan for NCDs 2013-2020 seeking to address exposure to risk factors at all ages and stages, including during childhood and adolescence when many risk behaviours first start. Concerted action in all sections of society and at all levels is needed to facilitate the implementation of prevention policies and programmes, including in schools and the workplace.

Country Example 

Coming soon