Understanding that many times cancer depends on our wrongdoing is the first step to prevention. Adequate prevention (not gaining weight and smoking, and doing a minimum of daily physical activity) helps protect against many types of cancer. A healthy lifestyle will also result in better prognosis if the case does arise. Screening and secondary prevention are also extremely important, especially in regards to breast, cervix and colon cancers.
The incidence of tumors in Italy
The AIRTUM data (Italian Association of Cancer Registries) and AIOM (Italian Association of Medical Oncology) show that in 2016 there were about a thousand new cancer cases per day. In a year that adds up to about 365,000 people (190,000 men and 176,000 women) receiving a diagnosis of cancer. Italy though is at the top in Europe for five-year survival after diagnosis.
“There are increasing forms of cancer, it is increasing because the average age of the population is growing and adults and the elderly are at greatest risk. in Western countries we must therefore expect an increase of around 5% per year. This figure, however, is outweighed by better therapeutic results and the greater chance of permanent cure. Italy in oncology is one of the countries with the highest standards of care”, said prof. Santoro.
Screening and early detection
“In Italy we have some screening campaigns (breast, cervix, colon), which are controlled, organized and programmed by the National Health System, and it is crucial to take part. These controls, however, are limited to some organs. It is therefore important that we do not underestimate the signals of our body. In the presence of symptoms (which do not necessarily signify a serious illness or cancer), ask your doctor, who will consider them in closer scrutiny.
In oncology an early diagnosis means less aggressive therapies, the ability to prevent post-surgical treatments and very high probability of a permanent cure“, points out, Professor Santoro.
The forward steps in research
“Today we have a completely different approach to the disease from that of 30-40 years ago. Our weapons against cancer used to be chemotherapy and hormone therapy, then there was the big boom of biological therapies and targeted therapies. Now we have interesting and encouraging results from immunotherapy. This approach seems to work not only on an individual tumor, but also in tumors that differ from one another and this is a very important innovation. The future is bright, I expect significant benefits and progress in the coming years.
I would stress that a diagnosis of cancer today is more often than before less dramatic, and more so a prognosis of healing or long survival with significantly reduced toxicity”, concludes Professor Santoro.