Rapid Fire Session 2014 World Cancer Congress

Update of the European code against cancer (#388)

Carolina Espina 1 , Patricia Villain 1 , Tracy Lignini 1 , Lawrence von Karsa 1 , Joachim Schüz 1
  1. IARC, Lyon, France

Background and Context:

Many cancers can be prevented by avoiding exposure to known risk factors such as tobacco smoking, alcohol, unhealthy diet, UV exposure, radon, or infection with hepatitis B virus or HPV, and a significant proportion of cancers can be treated more effectively if detected early. The 4th Edition of the European Code Against Cancer provides a set of recommendations for the individual to take action that, if followed, will impact reducing the cancer risk.


To review the new scientific evidence since the last edition in 2003, to reflect the expansion of the European Union to include 13 new Member States, and to improve the communication of the recommendations to lay people.


To update the scientific evidence base and develop recommendations to reduce cancer risk.

Programme/Policy Process:

The process developed was based on: (a) identification of established causes of cancer and prevention interventions using recent comprehensive authoritative sources of scientific evidence; (b) evaluation of the science by experts supported by systematic literature searches where necessary; (c) advice and empirical evidence on communication to the layman; (d) oversight by a pan-European Scientific Committee of senior experts of leading European institutions of cancer research and prevention.

Outcomes/What was learned:

Three levels of information are contained in an ad-hoc website: (1) the European Code Against Cancer itself consisting in “12 ways to reduce your cancer risk”; (2) additional information, in the form of questions and answers for lay people, on risk factors, and what individuals can do protect themselves.; (3) the scientific justification of the recommendations published in the peer-reviewed literature.
The European Code Against Cancer provides the potential for scaling up to the global level, broken down by regions of the world, using the established scientific methodology and similar presentation of outcomes.