BIREME Bulletin n° 65

World Cancer Day 2022: For more equitable care

The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) joins the World Cancer Day 2022 campaign, celebrated on February 4, whose theme is “Close the care gap”. Its main objective is to urge everyone, individually and collectively, to engage in actions aimed at improving access to quality care, including screening, early detection, treatment, and palliative care.

BIREME’s Scientific Information Products and Services on Cancer

BIREME, in its mission to provide access to scientific and technical health information, provides information on cancer in the Cancer Prevention and Control Virtual Health Library (or simply VHL Cancer).

This important source of information for researchers, health professionals, and society, launched in 2012, is the result of a technical cooperation project between the Representation of the Pan American Health Organization in Brazil (PAHO Brazil), the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME) and the Instituto Nacional de Câncer José Alencar Gomes da Silva (INCA). Cancer VHL represents a model of technical cooperation committed to promoting the production and decentralized operation of knowledge in cancer prevention and control.

Due to COVID-19, the actions of VHL Cancer in 2020 were reoriented to new actions and services that contributed to the control of the pandemic. In the ‘Highlights’ menu, on the right-hand side of the homepage, the following were made available: podcasts, videos, and scientific publications from partner institutions (Cochrane Library, AC Camargo Hospital, INCA, and Aliança de Controle do Tabagismo, among others.) In the central column, there are the highlighted themes and topics that are part of the Ministry of Health’s campaign calendar. In addition to the themes, in 2020, strategies on cancer and COVID-19, as well as COVID-19 and vaccines, were incorporated.

The Window of Knowledge is a resource with dynamic information, whose purpose is to present the content in a brief, but assertive and effective way. The first theme chosen was the National No Smoking Day 2020: Tobacco and Coronavirus. In 2021, the Window of Knowledge Pink October: early detection of breast cancer was launched. This set of new information sources in the VHL Cancer Prevention and Control aims to provide health professionals and researchers with specialized scientific literature, and at the same time, alert the population about ways to protect themselves from many types of cancer through the adoption of healthy life habits.

In the context of the 2030 Agenda, considering Sustainable Development Goal 3 – Target 3.4 – Reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases – BIREME developed a guided search for evidence through the EVID@Easy service for more than 20 health topics related to neoplasms. EVID@Easy facilitates finding the scientific evidence available in the VHL according to the stage of the decision-making process.

About World Cancer Day

Cancer is the second most frequent cause of morbidity and mortality in the Americas, after cardiovascular disease, and an important foundation of health inequalities. An estimated 4 million people in the region were newly diagnosed and 1.4 million people died from the disease in 2020. Approximately 57% of new cancer cases and 47% of cancer deaths occurred in people aged 69 years and older. age or younger, in the productive stage of their lives.

Globally, there will be an estimated 20,000,000 new cancer cases and 10 million cancer deaths in the next two decades, which is expected to further burden health systems, people and communities, occurring mainly in low- and middle-income countries. In the Americas region, the number of people expected to be diagnosed with cancer will increase by 55% to approximately 6,230,000 people expected to be diagnosed with cancer by 2040 if no further action is taken to prevent and control cancer.

Many types of cancer can be prevented and controlled by implementing evidence-based strategies for cancer prevention, screening and early detection, treatment, and palliative care. The most common modifiable risk factors for cancer, which are shared with many other noncommunicable diseases, are tobacco use, low fruit and vegetable intake, harmful use of alcohol, and lack of physical activity.

Some specific risk factors for cancer include chronic human papillomavirus (HPV) infections for cervical cancer; hepatitis B and C for liver cancer; and H. pylori infection for stomach cancer. Between one-third to one-half of cancer cases could be prevented by reducing the prevalence of known risk factors. Examples of interventions are tobacco control and HPV vaccination. The most effective primary prevention of cancer is based on public policy approaches, with legislation, regulation, and fiscal policies combined with activities to change community and individual behavior. Public health messages and health promotion should present evidence about specific risk factors.

PAHO/WHO has undertaken numerous efforts to reduce the number of cancer cases in the Americas, such as promoting the vaccination of girls against HPV, which has the potential to eradicate cervical cancer, as has already occurred in other countries. In 2020, the WHO launched a strategy to reduce this number to less than 4 cases of cervical cancer per 100,000 women by 2030, which consists of HPV vaccination, screening tests, and treatment.

Another initiative concerns childhood cancer, in which PAHO provides the necessary technical support to Member States to strengthen healthcare services and information systems to monitor and prioritize childhood cancer cases in health systems.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women globally and in the Americas. The PAHO and WHO initiative aims to reduce global mortality by 2.5% each year, thus preventing 2.5 million deaths by 2040. This initiative is based on three pillars: health promotion, early diagnosis, and comprehensive treatment, including supportive care.


Related links

Pan American Health Organization. World Cancer Day 2022. Available at:

World Health Organization. WHO guideline for screening and treatment of cervical pre-cancer lesions for cervical cancer prevention, 2nd ed. Available at: (only in English)

Pan American Health Organization. Infographic: Childhood and adolescent cancer survivors. Available at:

World Cancer Day.

VHL Cancer Prevention and Control – (available in Portuguese and Spanish)

Window of Knowledge National No Smoking Day 2020: Tobacco and Coronavirus – (only in Portuguese)

Window of Knowledge Pink October: early detection of breast cancer – (only in Portuguese)

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