A few major organizations support cancer control internationally: United Nations (U.N.) organizations, mainly the World Health Organization (WHO) and its research affiliate, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and the health program of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); government cancer institutions, such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research; cancer societies and advocacy groups, such as the American Cancer Society and the international umbrella organization for cancer societies and advocacy, the International Union Against Cancer (UICC). All these groups play high-level, visible roles in raising awareness about the magnitude of the cancer problem, and in promoting cancer control.

Beneath the layer of major organizations and major programs is a much broader array of organizations and professionals with narrower roles, confined either to a country or area, or to a particular aspect of cancer control research or practice. No global inventory of these efforts exists. Efforts include, for example, the Open Society Institute and the Diana Fund, which are major supporters of expanding hospice and palliative care programs in Eastern and Central Europe, Africa, and elsewhere. Individual cancer centers in Europe and the United States have entered into “twinning” relationships with centers in low-resource settings, providing technical assistance, training, research support, and financial support, over the long term. Professional societies, notably the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), provide training, fellowships, and other types of assistance to colleagues and institutions in LMCs. Some multinational pharmaceutical companies have programs to make oncology drugs available to cancer centers in low-resource countries where patients or governments otherwise would not be able to afford them. Foundations also fund research projects and service delivery. The Gates Foundation has been the main supporter of cervical cancer prevention research in low-resource settings.


The United Nations and its agencies relate directly to national governments. Governments look to WHO for guidance on health priorities, policy, and planning and for technical assistance. IAEA also acts through agreements with governments. It has pursued an active role in establishing and upgrading radiotherapy facilities and providing for their safe and effective operations.

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