Report on the International Association of Cancer Registries Annual Meeting

It was an honor and privilege to attend the 38th Annual International Association of Cancer Registries (IACR) Conference held in Marrakech, Morocco, on October 19-21, 2016. The theme of this year’s scientific program was “Progress in Cancer Registration Worldwide: Reducing Inequities and Demonstrating Benefit.” The cancer registry of Casablanca hosted the event with support from the Lalla Salma Foundation for the Prevention and Treatment of Cancers (FLSC). Every continent was represented, with Africa, Asia and Europe accounting for the highest attendance among the 226 delegates.

The IACR was founded in 1966 as a professional society dedicated to fostering the aims and activities of cancer registries worldwide. It is primarily for population-based registries, which collect information on the occurrence and outcome of cancer defined populations. The IACR Annual Scientific Meeting has been held regularly since 1970 and annually since 1982.

The scientific portion of the event included approximately 58 oral presentations and 104 poster presentations. The primary plenary themes were comprised of:

Cancer Surveillance for Cancer Control: The role of cancer registries to support the planning, implementation and monitoring of cancer control interventions.

Cancer in Africa: Examples of progress in Africa of cancer registration and cancer control.

Strengthening Health Data: Examining improvements in data to assess the cancer burden in populations — making the case for cancer registries and the role of vital registries, electronic medical health records and broader disease surveillance.

Infectious Related Cancers: A review of the evidence relating to infectious etiology of cancers, the impact of health transitions on the profile of cancer and the role of prevention.

Childhood Cancers: Linking data to provide evidence and inform action in low and middle income countries.IACR Annual Meeting

A vast amount of detail and interesting facts were presented over the course of three days. There are too many to list here, but the latter demonstrated that the burden of cancer is not just a local or regional matter; the disease affects every population world-wide. Each nation experiences different degrees of challenge to data collection, cancer registration and accurate assessment of their cancer burdens, but this does not undermine the importance of the data being collected. It reinforces the fact that population-based registries share a pivotal role in the development and improvement of cancer surveillance. Even though gaps in data collection are still present in geographic or financially challenged areas, there are a number of positive events occurring. Screening and prevention programs are being implemented, access to services are improving, data is becoming more available and newer treatments are being offered to patients.

A Few Facts from Around the Globe:

• Of the 35,000 new cancer cases that occur in Morocco each year, the most common cancer for women is breast (36.1%), followed by cervix (13%). For men, lung and prostate cancer are most common, at 23.8% and 10% respectively.

• Low and middle income countries (LMIC) bear more than half of the global burden of cancer and have the lowest proportion of the population covered by cancer registries.

• In Nigeria from 2012-2014, in males, 328 out of 365 infection-associated cancers (90%) were attributed to infections, and in females, 623 out of 665 (94%).

• In Korea between 2008-2010, the causes of HCC were hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and alcohol in 64%, 13%, and 32% of patients respectively.

National Cancer Registrars Association contributed to the poster presentations, which included over 104 posters from around the world. NCRA’s poster was titled “Using a Workforce Planning Model to Build a Comprehensive National Cancer Registrar Education System.” I would like to thank Kimberly Watson, Peggy Meehan, Mary Maul, Robin Havens and Michael Hector for creating a product to share with the surveillance community. The poster clearly outlined the workforce planning model and steps to deliver education to cancer registrars.

SEE ALSO: Cancer Registry Automation Update

In summary, there are key differences in the evolution of cancer registration around the world, but many commonalities exist at the same time. One factor holds true — data will continue to help us uncover and discover what we need to know about the risk factors, causes and biology of cancer.

The 2017 IACR conference will be held in Utrecht, Netherlands, on October 17-19. For more information, please visit

Leah Kiesow, MBA, CTR, is the Immediate Past President, National Cancer Registrars Association and is the Director, Cancer Registry, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA.

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