Planning for cancer control

A national cancer control program is the total of all cancer control activities taken by a whole country to address the cancer issue in that country. It should result from a national cancer control plan (NCCP) that is developed as an achievable strategic plan to control cancer, based on the country’s cancer risk factor burden, cancer burden and the resources available to implement the plan in the context of the culture and health-care system in that country. In order to develop a NCCP the following information should be collected:

  • The cancer burden – The minimum data needed is a realistic estimate of the number of new cases each year, and a reliable estimate of the proportion that is curable, as opposed to incurable at diagnosis. These data should provide a rank order of the common cancers, which will indicate those cancers for which effective prevention is possible, and those for which early diagnosis and screening are important. Cancer mortality, prevalence and five-year survival from diagnosis are helpful additional datasets, but most countries do not have them
  • The cancer risk factor burden – Some countries will not have a significant cancer burden but will have a significant prevalence of cancer risk factors. The common cancers can give clues to the risks, e.g., lung cancer and smoking. However, a population-based random survey will be necessary to measure these and indicate priorities for action.
  • The resources of skills and infrastructure available for cancer control – A realistic inventory that will enable planners to decide the country’s resource level must be taken. This will determine what cancer control actions are possible. For many countries that are ranked by the World Bank as having a very low level of resources, only cancer prevention and palliative care are possible for the whole population, although segments of the population may be able to obtain more.

With this knowledge, planning authorities can decide whether or not to proceed with the development of a NCCP. This will require political will and appropriate resources. A NCCP that does not have the support of the government is most unlikely to be implemented. If planning is to proceed, then a planning framework that covers the spectrum of cancer control is strongly recommended, even if the final plan must recommend a restricted range of actions, for example, only prevention.


National cancer control planning: responding to the challenge of cancer burden

Current cancer patterns reflect the way we live, and global trends for cancer burden are on the rise, in both developed and developing countries. Today, cancer causes 7 million deaths every year, corresponding to 12.5% of deaths worldwide. Over 11 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year, a figure estimated to rise to a staggering 16 million by 2020.

Cancer risk factors, such as tobacco smoking, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, exposure to infections and carcinogens, and longer life expectancy, all contribute to these rising trends. And yet we know from research that through appropriate lifestyle choices, up to one-third of all cancers could be prevented; through early detection and effective treatment, lethal consequences could be avoided in another third; and pain relief and palliative care would increase the quality of life of cancer patients even in low-resource settings.

Cancer control is a public health approach aimed at reducing the burden of cancer in a population. Planning integrated, evidence-based and cost-effective interventions across the cancer continuum (research, prevention, early detection, treatment, and palliative care) is the most effective way to tackle the cancer problem and reduce the suffering of patients and their families.

In response to the enormous burden of cancer, some countries have already developed national cancer plans and others are currently developing them. These plans are based on a systematic review of the national cancer burden and scientific knowledge of what has proven effective in decreasing the burden. The plans identify the priorities a country should set and specific actions it should take to reduce its cancer burden.

Most countries, however, have yet to begin a systematic national cancer planning effort and many are just becoming aware of the opportunity to do so. Where governments are concentrating on other immediate health priorities, NGOs can play a critically important role in increasing public and leadership awareness of the cancer problem and in developing effective partnerships that can take on the responsibility of cancer planning.

Ref: National Cancer Control Planning Resources for Non-Governmental Organizations

Here we discuss about international organizations who have planes for cancer control.

European Cancer Organization (ECCO) is the voice of healthcare professionals involved in delivering care to cancer patients in Europe. The strategic objectives that underpin all ECCO policy activity are:

The advancement of multidisciplinarity and patient-centricity in cancer care;


the promotion of policy recommendations for the improvement of cancer care, drawing on ECCO’s unique multidisciplinary reach.

ECCO’s current policy priorities are to:

  • Drive improvement in quality of cancer care in Europe via multidisciplinarity;
  • Ensure patients gain access to innovation, in all forms of care;
  • Advocate for step change improvement in the integration of care; and
  • Highlight the core requirements of the oncology workforce to deliver the best care.



A national cancer control program (NCCP) is a public health program designed to reduce the number of cancer cases and deaths and improve quality of life of cancer patients. This is done by implementing systematic, equitable and evidence-based strategies for prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and palliation using available resources. No matter what resource constraints a country faces, when well-conceived and well-managed, a NCCP helps reduce the cancer burden and improve services for cancer patients and their families.

National cancer control plans should be goal-oriented, realistic, carefully prepared and appropriately funded through a participatory process in order to be effectively implemented. Cancer control planning requires accurate data, including reliable cancer registries and monitoring and evaluation programs to ensure programs are appropriately prioritized and to assure quality.


If national leaders decide to create a new or updated cancer control plan, then the cancer control planning process can start with broad participatory support. All key stakeholders should be involved early in the planning stages, and national leadership is needed throughout the process. Decision-makers can be reassured that a cancer control plan will not create a costly vertical program, but should be integrated with noncommunicable diseases and other related programs to make better use of available resources.

Planning Step 1: Where are we now?

It is important to understand the current situation before considering new programs. An in-depth situation analysis helps identify gaps in services as well as opportunities for cost-effective action. Dimensions to consider when performing the situation analyses are: present status of the cancer burden, risk factors, current cancer control activities or services, available material, human and financial resources and the political and socioeconomic context.

Planning Step 2: Where do we want to be?

Once gaps are identified, the next step is to set priorities and objectives. Factors to consider in the priority setting process include the burden of disease, existence and feasibility of cost-effective interventions and equitable access to services for all. Objectives are directly related to the identified cancer control priority interventions. It is important to ensure that there are enough resources, capacity and public acceptability to maintain sustainable interventions over the long-term.

Planning Step 3: How do we get there?

Plans must be comprehensive, effectively implemented, and include an evaluation system. The process of translating a cancer control plan into action requires competent management and leadership that are essential to ensure that the right methods are applied in the right place, at the right time, with the right people to mobilize resources, track progress and move ahead.

Implementation steps:

The planning phase is followed by the policy implementation phase. Priority interventions can be implemented using a stepwise approach, focusing initially on what can be done with better organization of available resources in a target area where there is good potential for success. As results are successfully demonstrated, more resources can be justified and the program can be expanded.


Ref: WHO

In addition to Global Organizations, the Governments, National and Non-Governmental organizations have their own plan for controlling cancer:

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