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About CanScreen5

Underlying principles

Population-based screening of individuals at risk for some of the common cancers can significantly reduce the incidence (for selected cancers, such as cervical cancer and colorectal cancer) and the mortality from the cancers targeted by screening. Given the success of screening programmes for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer in high-income countries, many low- and middle-income countries are introducing or scaling up cancer screening programmes. A screening programme needs to be quality assured to achieve the desired impact, minimize the harms to the screening participants, and use resources appropriately. A functioning health information system (HIS) that collects at least a core set of data in a consistent manner to assess the status of implementation and performance of the programme is key to ensure the quality of the screening programme. The systematic reporting of the characteristics and the outcome (defined by performance standards and monitored and evaluated using indicators) is mandatory for the continuous quality improvement of the programme.

Framework of quality improvement

Repeated measurements of the process and of the outcome indicators over time help to improve the understanding of the factors and the principles underpinning effective cancer screening.


The CanScreen5 project is designed to be an instrument to improve the quality of cancer screening programmes. A major focus of the CanScreen5 project is capacity-building of health providers and programme managers to motivate and support countries to collect and use cancer screening data in a consistent manner on a regular basis through an effective information system. We expect the project will assist in generating and collecting high-quality data, for better programme monitoring, evaluation and continuous quality improvement.


CanScreen5 is a global data repository, designed to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on cancer screening programmes and activities in different countries. We are aware of the challenges caused by the lack of standardization of terms, data definition and the difficulties on data collection completion throughout the cancer screening continuum, being this true even in highly organized programmes. The CanScreen5 platform provides the required data collection tools, the standardized methodology and definitions for estimating the performance indicators, and the capacity to ease the data collection process and the comparison of those indicators with national and international standards. By providing a freely accessible platform to visualize the performance data analyzed with a common set of indicators, CanScreen5 also enables cancer screening programmes to compare their performance over time and with that of other similar programmes around the globe.

Etchical considerations

Related publications

Cancer Screening in Five Continents (CanScreen5): a project designed to improve the quality of cancer screening programmes.
This new article, published in the 6th edition of the annual Cancer Control 2019, presented the new IARC initiative, the CanScreen5 platform, to uniformly collect, analyse, store and disseminate information on characteristics and performance of cancer screening pogrammes. View the article.


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Any use of the data published on this website should cite their source as follows:
Basu P, Lucas E, Carvalho AL, Sauvaget C, Muwonge R, Herrero R, Sankaranarayanan R (2019). Cancer Screening in Five Continents. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Available from: https://canscreen5.iarc.fr, accessed [day/month/year].