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Estimates of the worldwide incidence and mortality from 27 major cancers and for all cancers combined for 2012 are now available in the GLOBOCAN series of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. We review the sources and methods used in compiling the national cancer incidence and mortality estimates, and briefly describe the key results by cancer site and in 20 large “areas” of the world. Overall, there were 14.1 million new cases and 8.2 million deaths in 2012. The most commonly diagnosed cancers were lung (1.82 million), breast (1.67 million), and colorectal (1.36 million); the most common causes of cancer death were lung cancer (1.6 million deaths), liver cancer (745,000 deaths), and stomach cancer (723,000 deaths).In this report, we present the most recent cancer incidence and mortality statistics (for 2012) for the major cancers in 20 regions of the world. Details of the data sources and methods used in GLOBOCAN to compile the estimates at the national level are provided, and we introduce a novel alphanumeric scoring system to give a broad indication of the robustness of the estimation within each country. A global snapshot of the patterns by cancer site brings focus to the need for regional prioritisation of cancer control efforts, as well as the ongoing efforts to improve the limited surveillance systems in many low and middle income countries.