In September 1975 Prof Enrico Anglesio and Dr Luc Raymond, during a meeting at IARC, laid the foundations for a scientific group addressed to the countries of Southern Europe where the study and the knowledge of French was more common than English. This proposal was further developed in Geneva with Prof Gustave Riotton and Albert Tuyns. In a document dated October 1975 is stated that Anglesio would have been the temporary President and Raymond the temporary Secretary of such Group and they scheduled the first founding meeting in Geneva (CH) the 27-28 March 1976. At that meeting were invited the participants to the IARC meeting of September 1975, moreover, they were asked to extend the invitation to experts in the fields of cancer registration and epidemiology.
The first meeting took place during the day of Ascension (from which derives the original name Group of Ascension), 50 experts participated, included representatives of IARC and WHO. During the meeting the situation of cancer registries (CRs) mainly in France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal was discussed and several issues related to cancer registration, training, classification, collaborations and comparability were addressed. The Secretariat of the Group was based at the Ginevra CR. A Committee (Raymond, Anglesio, Berrino, Tuyns and Schraub) sent, in collaboration with IARC, a questionnaire to CRs to understand which classifications and procedures were used, with the aim of improving harmonization and collaboration. The Committee chose the French as the official language for the meetings and the communications. The second meeting was planned for the 19-20 May 1976 in Milan, Italy.
The Group worked for 17 years supporting CRs in Europe and in Africa and Latin America, on the basis of internal resources. Then, based on the growth of commitments and activities it was decided to formalise the Group. On 30 May 1992 there was the first meeting of the Founding Assembly (A. Tuyns, L. Raymond, R. Zanetti, J. Estève, C. Martinez, H. Sancho-Garnier, F. Berrino, L. Cayolla da Motta, J. Faivre, M. Geddes, P. Schaffer, B. Terracini). On 23 October 1993 the Group for registration and cancer epidemiology in Latin Language countries, GRELL, was established based on a mailing poll. The Statute defined objectives and activities. The group had a Secretary made up of a President (Raymond with 2-3 years term), a Secretary (Zanetti 3-6 years term), a Treasurer (Faivre 3-6 years term) and an IARC representative (Faivre). The foundation of GRELL was announced to all the relevant Institutions and Scientific associations.
The Founding Assembly was named Coordination Group - CG. The CG, which included representatives of the different countries, met regularly to organise all the activities of GRELL (the first meeting was in Grenada on 13 May 1993). Over the years the Statutes has been changed as regards, for example, the number of representatives for each Country in the CG, the legal residence, the use of external consultants, etc.
Every year the GRELL has organised scientific meetings, each year in a different country (learn more on Past Meetings). Since 1989, before the day of the scientific meeting a training activity has been organised: 1989-91 Basic methods in epidemiology, 1992 Geographical analysis, 1993 Research protocol, 1994 Prevalence estimate, 1995 Study EuroCIM(4), 1996 Registries and screening, 1997 Estimates of incidence and prevalence, 1999 The measure of quality of life, 1999 Quality of the data and attributable risk, 2000 Time trends in survival, 2001 Screening evaluation, 2002 Virus and cancer, 2003 Software, 2004 estimate and evaluation of the denominator, 2005 Definition and classification of tumours.
GRELL has established good collaborations with all the relevant Associations involved in cancer epidemiology and registration, starting from IARC and involving also IACR, ANCR and WHO. It has also been among the founders of ENCR.
The activity of GRELL has increased over time with a growing involvement of Latin language CRs in Europe (e.g. Belgium, Luxemburg, Romania) and also outside Europe, both in North, Central and South America and in Africa.
In 2016 the members of the CG decided to change radically the GRELL from a group of self-appointed people to a Scientific Society with registered members (General Assembly) and elected management body. The new statutes were voted and approved in the GRELL meeting in Brussels, 24-26 May 2017.
* This summary is mainly and loosely based on the original document by Beatrice Venier and Fabrizio Rufo available in Italian in the Italian section of the GRELL web-site.