What is cancer?
Cancer is a complex disease that varies depending on the type of cancer, location, tumours, malignancy, causes and approaches.
Symptoms of cancer can be varied and very much depend on the type of tumour. However, many cancers may give warning signs such as:
- Appearance of a lump or nodule
- A wound or ulcer that does not heal
- A mole or freckle that changes size, shape or colour
- Persistent pain
- Abnormal bleeding or haemorrhaging
- Persistent cough and hoarseness
- Changes to urinary or intestinal habits
- Weight loss for no reason
Who is affected by cancer?
39,900 cases were diagnosed in Catalonia in 2015, excluding skin cancer or melanoma. This breaks down as affecting 23,600 men and 13,300 women. The incidence rate is 345 cases for every 100,000 men and 217 for every 100,000 women. In men, the most common cancer is prostate cancer, followed by colorectal and lung cancer. In women, the most common cancers are breast, colorectal and lung cancer. The mortality rate for cancer is around 109 cases for every 100,000 men and 55 for every 100,000 women.
Different tests are used to detect cancer, such as:
- Blood test
- Urine test
- Cerebrospinal fluid analysis
- Pleural fluid analysis
- Stool test
- Nasopharyngeal swab test (existing mucous)
- Tumour markers
Imaging tests can also be requested such as:
- Contrast x-ray
- Computed tomography (CT or scan)
- Magnetic or nuclear resonance imaging
Finally, tissue analyses are requested:
Cancer is treated using a multidisciplinary approach and different medical specialisations are combined to treat it appropriately. This treatment follows a protocol: surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. There are also specific therapies for some tumours such as hormone therapy, targeted therapies or immunotherapy.
A series of factors influence and have an impact on cancer:
- Lack of physical activity
- Dietary habits (it is necessary to have a balanced diet and avoid processed foods)
- Obesity or being overweight
- Infections (infectious agents may cause some tumours)
- Environmental pollution
- Work-related carcinogens
There are also screening programmes for some kinds of cancer.
Hospital o serveis complementaris relacionats
Children's Hospital and Woman's Hospital
Dr. Antonio Gil, head of the Hospital’s Gynaecology Department, explains that multidisciplinary work is vital to maintain a level of excellence in patient care. They treat different pathologies, including all cancers of the urogenital apparatus and breast cancer.
The Vall d’Hebron Medical Oncology Department witnessed a vital moment in its trajectory when Dr. Josep Baselga joined in 1996. He laid the first stone of the current Department, now directed by Dr. Josep Tabernero, and converted the hospital into a world-leading centre.
The head of the Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery and Transplant Department at Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, Dr. Ramon Charco, explains the evolution of a Department that successfully treats both adults and children.