Dr. Hernán Cortés-Funes is a specialist in the field of oncology.
Head of this specialty service that is in the Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre and the High Care International Hospital in Marbella, Cortés was one of the founding members of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology and has held important positions as president of the Federation of European Cancer Societies (FECS) and the Spanish Association for Cancer Research. The doctor offers his view of the topicality of this condition.
Have you stopped being a taboo disease?
Today we talk more freely without linking cancer to a serious issue with few solutions, but it is done in a much more positive. There is this problem but also give all the advances that arise for solution.
Does it have much to do advances in treatments?
Undoubtedly. Progress, not only in treatments that offer increasingly better results, but that each time the diagnosis can be made early, when the disease is limited, thanks to new technologies. These advances are constant in all areas and can reduce significantly the overall cancer mortality, which each year is less.
Among these developments are new therapies less aggressive than chemotherapy. What are
New therapies are less aggressive because actually work not directly destroying cells as with chemotherapy, which is toxic and which, besides acting on the tumor makes on normal tissues. These new therapies come from a more direct because they interfere with the mechanisms of growth of malignant cells, which are better known every day. These are the usual mechanisms for the growth of all cells in the body, but the evil are different because they have more specific changes (called mutations) that are known not only getting better, but allow the actions of specific drugs. These are administered both intravenously and orally, and in certain tumors, are highly effective and reach, often, to replace chemotherapy, but also can be used in combination therewith. These treatments are much less toxic and can be administered for long periods of time with good tolerance and effectiveness.
However, it remains a disease with a high mortality rate.
While it has a high mortality rate, it is shrinking as I said before. In the last ten years the mortality of breast cancer, for example, has fallen more than 25% thanks to new treatments and early diagnosis, which are the product of mammograms programs to healthy patients. The same has happened in other cancers such as colon and rectum.
What disease is even more important than in other dealings with the patient?
The treatment must be equal. What happens is that, currently, to cancer and is being equated to many other diseases that are not having much miedo.Los advances in treatment and early detection are key in reducing deaths from this disease
Has it changed much the attitude of patients to tackling the disease?
Much before the cancer diagnosis had only involved a series of stigmata of incurable, suffering and death in the short term. Now, thanks to free and comprehensive information that exists, where the role of journalists is essential, patients take better diagnosis and disease face more naturally and optimism, especially when they can assess the positive results of the treatments.
What about tumors, which are the most common?
They vary from man to woman. In men the most common is lung cancer, followed by prostate, colon and rectum, whereas in women is breast cancer, followed closely by the lung and colon. In women, lung cancer incidence increases because he started smoking later in life than men, among whom this typology has stabilized.
And the most dangerous?
Depend on the state. The more advanced cancers when they are, are more dangerous because the treatment is more complex. But thanks to advances in new treatments today have changed the situation in many tumors, such as advanced colon, where survival was a few years ago of months and now is measured in years, with good quality life. The same has happened with kidney or advanced prostate, which until recently had few treatments and, at present, there are very effective.
What kinds of cancers are considered easily curable?
It is very difficult to answer this question because the curability of cancer is directly related to the type of tumor being treated and, of course, to the extent of disease. The earlier the diagnosis the tumor most likely to cure. There are also very sensitive tumors to medical treatment (chemotherapy) as are some leukemias, lymphomas and germ cell tumors, with a high rate of curability, even in advanced. But in cancer treatment not everything has to be healing, because many times without achieving a cure can treat patients with incurable tumors with highly effective therapies that slow the disease so that you can live with it and, generally with good quality of life.
What do you recommend to prevent them?
First we must avoid consumption of snuff, because it is the leading cause of lung cancer. Of course, a healthy diet, low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables is important, like exercise.
September 11, 2013
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