About Us

A Global Imperative to Eliminate the Burden of Cancer

The ICGC was established to launch and coordinate a large number of research projects sharing a common goal of unraveling the genomic changes present in many forms of cancer that contribute to the burden of disease in people throughout the world. More than 8 million people died of cancer and more than 14 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2012. Unless progress is made in understanding and controlling cancer, those numbers are expected to rise to 17.5 million deaths and 27 million new cases in 2050.

Challenges in Treating Cancer

Once thought of as a single disease, cancer is now understood to consist of a large number of different conditions. In almost all forms, however, cancer changes the genetic blueprint, or genomes, of cells, and causes disruptions within normal biological pathways, leading to uncontrolled cell growth. Because genomic changes are often specific to a particular type or stage of cancer, systematically mapping the changes that occur in each cancer could provide the foundation for research to identify new therapies, diagnostics and preventive strategies.

Data Available - as Rapidly as Possible

Over 20,000 tumor genomes are available worldwide. This provides a comprehensive catalogue of genomic abnormalities associated with cancer, a collection of data that will reveal the repertoire of mutations that cause this wide-ranging disease and help define clinically relevant subtypes of cancer. The data also provides a rich resource for the world’s researchers who are working to develop new treatments to make patient care move forward.

ICGC Initiatives

The ICGC solved numerous data governance, ethical, and logistical challenges to make global genomic data sharing for cancer possible, providing the international community with comprehensive genomic data for many cancer types. The second ICGC initiative, the Pan Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG), defines similarities and differences between cancer types. Based on this information, The ICGC for Medicine Initiative (ICGCmed) resolved the future strategy for the ICGC in a "White Paper", laying the foundation for the current ICGC Initiative ICGC-ARGO (Accelerating Research in Genomic Oncology), where key clinical questions and patient clinical data drive the interrogation of cancer genomes.

ICGC-ARGO’s mission is to provide the world with a unique resource of multi-omic data for people with cancer in clinical trials to accelerate the discovery of new treatments.

ICGC-ARGO aims to address challenges of central importance to improving outcomes for people affected by cancer.


  1. How do we use current treatments better?
  2. How does a cancer change with time and treatment?
  3. How do we practically implement these approaches in healthcare and drug development?
  4. How do we advance early detection and ultimately prevent cancer?