The threat to human and economic development posed by the growing burden of cancer in low- and middle-income countries is widely recognized. Cancer is now one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with an estimated 14.1 million new cases and 8.2 million deaths in 2008.
With over 8 million of these new cases and 5 million of the deaths, the developing world is bearing over half of this burden, but is the least equipped to cope with this situation. Cancer in developing countries is also more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage and, therefore, be less responsive to treatment. This situation will become worse in the future due to the expected increase in the global population and as a result of ageing: it is predicted that by 2030 the number of new cancer cases will increase to 21.7 million, and cancer-related deaths to 13 million. Without evidence-based cancer planning and control interventions, 60–70% of the global cancer burden will occur in developing countries.
These global figures are made possible by the work of population-based cancer registries, which provide the means of estimating the burden of cancer in different communities. The Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development (GICR) convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and backed by several international, regional, and major national organizations aims to place cancer and its surveillance firmly on the emerging global NCD agenda: developing the capacity to produce reliable, high-quality information on the burden of cancer so that effective policies for cancer control may be developed, implemented and evaluated.