Lifestyle habits have a huge impact on the development of cancer to the extent that there is even scientific evidence which suggests that if the entire population would adopt a healthy lifestyle then one out of three tumors could be avoided.
The development of cancer depends on a number of risk factors which include:
- Related to biological factors.
- Related to a hereditary component.
Within the work of prevention and early diagnosis of cancer, at iTAcC we subscribe the European Code Against Cancer.
Certain cancers may be avoided –and health in general can be improved – by adopting healthier lifestyle:
- Do not smoke. Do not use any form of tobacco.
- Make your home smoke free. Support smoke-free policies in your workplace.
- Take action to be a healthy body weight.
- Be physically active in everyday life. Limit the time you spend sitting.
- Have a healthy diet:
- Eat plenty of whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruits.
- Limit high-calorie foods (foods high in sugar or fat) and avoid sugary drinks.
- Avoid processed meat; limit red meat and foods high in salt.
- If you drink alcohol of any type, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention.
- Avoid too much sun, especially for children. Use sun protection. Do not use sunbeds.
- In the workplace, protect yourself against cancer-causing substances by following health and safety instructions.
- Find out if you are exposed to radiation from naturally high radon levels in your home. Take action to reduce high radon levels.Cancers may be cured, or the prospects of cure greatly increased, if they are detected early:
- For women:
- Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s cancer risk. If you can, breastfeed your baby.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of certain cancers. Limit use of HRT.
- Ensure your children take part in vaccination programmes for:
- Hepatitis B (for newborns)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) (for girls)
- Take part in organised cancer screening programmes for:
- Bowel cancer (men and women)
- Breast cancer (women)
- Cervical cancer (women).
Program for Early Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most common among tumors that affect men and the second among those affecting women. The disease mainly develops from the age 50. The disease has a familial determinant in 15% of the cases and inherited genetic predisposition in other cases.
Program for early detection
Specialists involved Gastroenterology, Endoscopy, General Surgery, Genetics, Medical and Radiation Oncology work closely together in the Program for Early Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer in order to diagnose or rule out the presence of a colorectal cancer. The entire treatment protocol is activated simultaneously with the coordination of the committee of specialists in colorectal cancer.
The screening program includes:
- Lab tests
- Molecular and genetic studies specifically aimed at the identification of colorectal cancer or the predisposition for it.
- Endoscopic and radiological studies.
- All positive cases are evaluated by the colorectal cancer committee at iTAcC.
A genetic study is one of the most important points in the Program for the Early Detection of Colorectal Cancer. It is used in order to identify persons with an elevated risk, permit an early diagnosis and to act more effectively in the treatment of this type of cancer through a specific program of surveillance.
Program for Early Detection of Cervical Cancer
An estimated 75% of the sexually active population has come in contact with the virus (HPV) HPV in their lifetime. The infection usually does not cause any problem and disappears after a few months although a certain amount of people who become infected are not able to fight it. For these patients, the infection involves certain risks:
- In some individuals the endurance of the virus (especially types 6 and 11, classified as low risk) leads to the appearance of small tumors or warts (papillomas) on the male and female reproductive organs.
- A small proportion of those affected by oncogenic types (e.g. types 16 and 18 among others) may develop asymptomatic precancerous lesions. These lesions, if not diagnosed and treated, can become cytology.
Cytology or Pap Smear
It is done annually to diagnose precancerous lesions (LSIL, HSIL, CIN 1, 2 and 3) or uterine cancer. Its use in prevention programs in Western countries has significantly decreased the rate of mortality from cervical cancer.
Detects the presence of the virus with oncogenic risk even before cell changes occur or cervical abnormalities that would be detected by cytology. A positive HPV test does not indicate the presence of a lesion or disease. It only demonstrates the existence of a risk factor.
The Assessment and Prevention of Cervical Cancer program at iTAcC has the technical and professional means in order to comprehensively carry out the complete process of early diagnosis in our facilities.
According to the European Medicines Agency guideline, quadrivalent vaccine (types 6, 11, 16 and 18) in children between 9 and 15 years is a means of prevention. Studies also show that the use of the quadrivalent vaccine can protect against lesions caused by HPV in women between the ages of 24 and 45 years.
Program for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer
Identifying persons with the highest genetic risk of breast cancer gives us the opportunity to establish an early diagnosis through a specific monitoring program in addition to providing a more effective treatment.
Breast cancer is the most common malignancy among women worldwide (with the exception of skin tumors). It is the second most common after lung cancer. Some 22,000 cases a year, the majority between the ages of 35 and 80, with a maximum range between 45 and 65 are diagnosed in Spain.
Early diagnosis and greater public awareness on prevention along with the improvement of specific treatments have played an important role in obtaining increasingly better results in terms of survival and disease control when it is diagnosed at an early stage.
iTAcC offers a complete program for Early Diagnosis of Breast Cancer. Periodic controls are recommended from the age of 35, regardless of the absence of symptoms.
If you detect any of the following signs:
- The appearance of a lump in the breast or armpit.
- Redness or shrinkage of the skin
- Bloody discharge from the nipple
Consult a specialist.
iTAcC schedules a genetic study to identify an increased genetic risk of developing the disease by establishing a specific surveillance program and an early diagnosis when there is a history of the disease. This allows for acting in a more effective manner when treating this type of cancer.
Program for the Early Diagnosis of Skin Cancer
Skin Cancer non-melanoma is the most frequent type of cancer in Europe and the United States and can be divided in two types:
- Basal cell carcinoma (75 % of cases)
- Squamous cell or Epidermoid Carcinoma (25 % of cases).
The incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer seems to be increasing in recent years due to sun exposure and a longer life expectancy of the population. It is important to emphasize that together they represent the most common malignant tumors although they represent only 1 out of 1000 cases of death due to cancer.
iTAcC’s Program for Early Detection of Skin Cancer coordinates a group of specialists in Dermatology, Maxillofacial Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Radiation and Medical Oncology and Genetics in order to rule out skin cancer or diagnose it. The treatment protocol is launched simultaneously with the coordination of the committee of specialists in skin cancer and melanoma.
Included in the early detection program:
- The examination is done by a dermatologist using a device called a dermoscopy with an immersion lens, polarized light, or both. It is used in order to analyze the dermoscopic parameters to determine whether a lesion is benign, malignant, and suspicious or there is a risk of becoming malignant. The appropriate action is taken according to the findings. This method is reliable and today is considered a method of choice.
- In certain cases it is recommendable to perform a Digital Body Mapping. It involves making digitized photographs of large areas of skin (middle back, lower back, arms, legs, thighs, and face) in order to detect changes in the number, size or shape of the skin lesions. The dermatologist can then automatically compare these lesions using a program called Bodyscan.
Program for the Early Detection of Prostate Cancer
The evaluation of males with the greatest risk of prostate cancer gives us the opportunity to perform an early diagnosis and be more effective in treating this type of cancer through a specific monitoring program.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in males. This incidence is directly related to age: at age 50 approximately 1 out of 4 men have prostate tumor cells and at age 80, the disease affects 1 out of 2 males.
An enlargement of the prostate does not necessarily indicate the presence of a tumor. It may only be a benign hypertrophy.
Prostate cancer tends to progress slowly. The cause is not yet clear. It seems that the origin is a mutation in the DNA of some prostate cells causing an abnormal proliferation leading to the formation of a tumor.
It is important to be familiar with the risk factors. There is a higher rate of prostate cancer from the age of 65 as well as in black males. A diet rich in saturated fats, obesity and prior family history of prostate cancer also appear to also have an influence.
The only way to prevent these tumors is:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Limit the intake of fats, especially saturated (animal and dairy).
An Early Diagnosis
The early diagnosis of prostate cancer can be done by:
- Medical examination
- The measurement of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) with a blood test must be carried out regularly from 50 years of age in general, and from the age 40 if there is a family history.
At iTAcC we recommend that you consult a specialist and schedule regular checkups for early detection of prostate cancer even in the absence of symptoms. Our institution has the human and technical resources necessary to conduct a thorough study for the early detection of prostate cancer and propose the most appropriate treatment.
The Program for the Early Detection of Prostate Cancer iTAcC includes a genetic study when necessary in order to determine the level of risk, establish a specific monitoring program, to obtain an early diagnosis and to act more effectively.
Program for the Early Detection of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in industrialized countries and smoking is the cause of most of these tumors, both in active (representing 85% of patients) and passive smokers as well. The risk of disease increases with the number of years that the individual has smoked. Quitting reduces the risk of lung cancer significantly even after many years of smoking. The causes of the disease are not entirely clear in the case of non-smokers or people with little exposure to tobacco smoke although alterations in genes involved in the development of lung cancer have been identified.
Specialists in the Respiratory System, Endoscopy, Thoracic Surgery, Genetics, Medical Oncology and Radiation Oncology work together in the Program for Early Detection of Lung Cancer in order to rule out the presence of lung cancer or diagnose it. The entire protocol treatment is implemented with the coordination of the committee of specialists in lung cancer.
The program includes:
- Laboratory tests
- Radiological examinations: In November 2010, the NLST (National Lung screening Trial) reported that there were 20% fewer deaths from lung cancer among trial participants who had been studied with low-dose CT versus a chest X-ray. iTAcC has the radiological means (64-slice CT) in order to conduct a radiological study for early diagnosis of lung cancer. It is able to detect the presence of pulmonary nodules in patients at risk and compare the evolution in those cases that are less than 7 mm.
- Molecular and genetic studies are specifically aimed at the identification of lung cancer or predisposition for the disease. Those persons who have a high genetic risk of developing the disease are identified. This gives us the opportunity to perform an early diagnosis through a specific monitoring program as well as being more effective in treating this type of cancer.
- All positive cases are evaluated by the iTAcC lung cancer committee.
iTAcC, in collaboration with Genome Systems genetic studies, recommends performing genetic studies for persons with a family history of colorectal, breast, ovarian, prostate cancer as well as some types of endocrine tumors.
Genetic testing and counseling
Around 10% of tumors have an inherited genetic component. Carriers of this component are more likely to develop a certain type of tumor during his or her lifetime, although other factors exist which can determine the appearance of a tumor.
The Genetic Counselling Unit of iTAcC can provide information about the influence of genetics in cancer, advising on whether to conduct a genetic study in order to assess the risk in your family.
You will be informed of the possibilities of having a genetic mutation. Through customized tests an overallestimate of the risk of developing a certain type of tumor can be obtained by carrying out an individualized program for the early diagnosis or for ruling out the presence of a tumor.
Genetic testing usually involves a blood test which will be used by our Genetic Counselling Unit team together with Genome Systems to analyze the presence of tumor markers. This process may take several weeks.
iTAcC is an active center in the fight against tobacco abuse. We can help you quit
iTAcC is an active center in the fight against tobacco abuse. iTAcC offers a personalized program of recognized effectiveness as well as a multidisciplinary team in order help you quit smoking.
Quit smoking program
Medical Evaluation: It consists of an interview to rule out pathologies related to the consumption of tobacco, an exhaustive blood analysis, measurement of exhaled carbon monoxide (CO) and spirometry for measuring lung capacity. Our psychologist will test your level of nicotine addiction during the evaluation using the Fagerström test. The level of motivation to quit smoking is determined by completing a questionnaire.
Personalized Intervention: it is led by a psychologist and in coordination with the medical team. If necessary, nicotine replacement medication or administration of varenicline will be prescribed. The latter interferes with the nicotine’s trigger mechanism. Office visits are regularly scheduled, starting the following week. The usual treatment length is a minimum of 6 to 8 sessions although this depends on the needs of the individual patient.
The stop smoking program consists of iTAcC’s team of medical professionals working together with clinical psychologist Silvia Echavarria Doussout.