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Interventions for cancer prevention and control at the individual and population levels exist across the cancer continuum from prevention of risk factors to early detection, treatment and palliative care. Tobacco use, the cause of the most preventable cancers worldwide, can be substantially reduced through increased excise tax on cigarettes, smoke-free air laws, restrictions on promotion, and counter-advertising. Indoor and outdoor air pollution, which account for a substantial proportion of lung cancer deaths, can be reduced through use of clean stoves, cleaner fuels, proper ventilation, and air quality guidelines and policies. Vaccines against hepatitis B virus and human papillomaviruses could reduce the future burden of liver and cervical cancers, respectively, particularly in economically developing countries. Furthermore, transmission of these and some other cancer causing agents (e.g., Schistosoma haematobium, hepatitis C virus) can be prevented by improving hygiene and educating people to modify their high risk behaviors. Protection from harmful sun exposure reduces the risk of skin cancer. Cancer-causing occupational exposures can be prevented through improved workplace safety.

Cervical cancer deaths are preventable.

Number of future deaths that could be prevented in one year if 70% of 9-year-old girls were vaccinated

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Map showing the number of future deaths that could be prevented in one year if 70% of 9-year-old girls were vaccinated

Tobacco use, the most preventable cause of cancer worldwide, can be substantially reduced through increased excise tax on cigarettes, smoke-free air laws, restrictions on promotion, and counter advertising.

Regular screening for cervical, colorectal, and breast cancers detects the disease at an early stage, when the chance for survival and cure is high. A heightened awareness of warning signs for cancer of the oral cavity, skin, and some other cancers may also lead to detection of cancers at an early stage.

Effective treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation) has been developed for several cancers, including cancers of the breast, colon and rectum, and testis and for many childhood cancers. For certain cancers such as testis, treatment could lead to cure even for advanced stage disease. Pain associated with cancer can be controlled by administration of analgesic drugs. Full application of these interventions globally could prevent a substantial proportion of cancer deaths worldwide.

Childhood cancer survival rates have doubled over the past several decades in higher-income countries but lag behind in middle- and lower-income countries.

Five-year survival rate from childhood cancers

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Text alternative: Five-year survival rate from childhood cancers Bar chart showing that childhood cancer survival rates have doubled over the past several decades in higher-income countries but lag behind in middle- and lower-income countries Download High Res

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Benjamin Franklin