The World Cancer Report provides a unique global view of cancer. It documents the frequency of cancer in different countries, trends in cancer incidence and mortality and it describes the known causes of human cancer. The molecular and cellular basis of the multistep process of malignant transformation is concisely summarized. The report contains an up to date over-view of cancer prevention, including screening programmes for early diagnosis, as well as advances in surgical and medical oncology, including novel drugs targeting tumour-specific signalling pathways. The efforts of the World Health Organization in the fight against cancer are detailed, together with strategies for cancer control.