cancer

Colorectal cancers are the third most common type of cancer and the second most common cause of death in Europe. The month of March has been chosen as “ Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month ”, to raise awareness about this disease, as detecting it as early as possible can save many lives. As a surgical oncologist, I can only say that a research-driven multidisciplinary approach is crucial to treat this type of malignancies. If surgery is the only treatment modality which has a curative potential by itself for solid tumours, inadequate cancer surgery can hinder the chances for a potentially curable patient to be rendered long-term disease-free. Doing surgery “right” is essential in the complex area of cancer management. It is not only a matter of how to perform a surgical operation, but mostly whether and when to do it, and under which circumstances. This is why “cancer surgery” has evolved into “surgical oncology”, a term which highlights the healthcare professional’s knowledge of tumour biology and other oncology treatments, as well as his/her belonging to a multidisciplinary team. Surgery applied in the oncologic field should be therefore performed by fully trained surgical specialists in cancer care, and this is even more necessary when we consider the complexity involved in learning the latest trends in colorectal cancer (CRC) surgery . Techniques such as laparoscopic and robotic surgery, as well as trans-anal excision, are now very sophisticated and ensure the same level of effectiveness of the open surgery approach. Thanks to minimally invasive surgery (MIS) , there is a clear shift from the necessity of mutilating anatomic structures, such as the anal sphincter, to their functional preservation. This new approach ensures eligible patients a shorter hospital stay, a quicker return to normal activities, and less pain following surgery. Nowadays, some healthcare specialists (e.g...
The argument has raged for some time and shows no sign of abating any time soon: screening for diseases, yes or no? Take the case of prostate cancer screening: Richard Ablin - the author of “The Great Prostate Hoax”, and the man who claims to be the first to have identified PSA (a protein created by the walnut-sized prostate gland that can easily be measured) - maintains that PSA testing can do, and often does, more harm than good. Ablin, of the University of Arizona, has noted that a man’s PSA levels may be high but that doesn’t mean that he has cancer. On the reverse side of the coin, a low PSA level doesn’t necessary mean that a potential patient’s worries are over in this regard.Yet the fact remains that around one-in-three men aged from 40-60 has traces of prostate cancer, and the risk rises with ageing. So all men should be regularly tested, right? Well, not necessarily… Ablin and others argue that over-testing can very easily lead to over-treatment, including unnecessary invasive surgery to remove the prostate gland. The over-treatment argument has also been used in respect of breast cancer screening, although the figures tend to show that it works very well in a preventative sense and even better in detecting early breast cancer in target age groups. Yet over-treatment is clearly an issue, with many women (plus those aforementioned men with early ‘signs’ of prostate cancer) simply wanting all traces of the disease, or potential disease, removed right away, regardless of the potential cost to them personally or, indeed, fiscally to society in general. So over-treatment is clearly something that cannot be side-stepped. The counter-arguments - and they are very strong ones - is that our ‘social contract’ has obligations to ensure the highest standards possible regarding...
We built the War on Cancer website to give patients and their families a storytelling platform. Now it’s time to add new features and bring the medtech industry and healthcare sector into the community In January 2015, I was living in London with my best friend Fabian Bolin . Fabian was preparing to move to LA to pursue his acting career when he began to feel ill. His leukaemia diagnosis came as a total shock and changed our lives forever. Fabian started blogging about his experience as a cancer patient and gained quite a following. I was helping with some of the administrative and practical issues he faced, and supporting him along his journey. One day, when his story began to make headlines and his inbox was full of encouraging messages of support from total strangers, we started to talk about how this could become something even bigger. That’s when we started War on Cancer . At first, we had a simple idea: we wanted to enable people to share their stories and to experience the love that had helped Fabian during a difficult time. But as the project evolved, we saw an opportunity to do more. The storytelling platform is the cornerstone of the community – it helps people through their recovery process and provides others with insights into the reality of undergoing cancer treatment. Our vision is for a more inclusive community where we invite patients and their loved ones, but also medtech companies and the healthcare industry – everyone who has a part to play in eradicating cancer. The potential is considerable. Not only do we want patients to interact with one another, we envision a community where companies, health professionals and others can also create a profile and engage. Through these channels, companies could create seminars,...
Artificial intelligence technology can help to meet rising demand for early detection of melanoma. Skin cancer and melanoma (the most severe type of skin cancer) are becoming a social health issue. The incidence has been rising. Currently, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. Experts agree that early detection is essential and can save lives. One third of those diagnosed are below 50 at the time of diagnosis. There is still no medical cure, but recently some new treatments have emerged that can help to extend life for few years. Those new treatments for advanced melanoma come at a cost, but, if detected at an early stage and removed by excision, the cost is more than 100 times less. Early detection starts with population awareness – people should always consult their doctor if they are in any doubt about a mole. However, the trouble is that early-stage melanoma can easily be confused with benign moles, and 90% of the population has at least one mole. With cases on the rise, the number of dermatologists will soon be insufficient to cope with the increased workload. New ideas are sorely needed. Wanted: innovative solutions I ask often myself why around 30% of melanoma are still detected at an advance stage? Why are there so many benign lesions excised – about 20 to 30 times more than the number of malignant lesions? Why is it so difficult for general practitioners, who are very often acting as a first point of contact, to do an efficient skin exam? I believe that with new technologies and e-health, which allow us to set up new processes and bring innovative healthcare services to clinics, solutions can be found to overcome those issues. When dermatologists began using dermoscopy...
What are the main day-to-day challenges that the patients you represent face? More than 10 million people in Europe have cancer and there are many day-to-day challenges, primarily related to the way the disease of the patient is managed and how patients cope with the issues related to the disease. What medical technologies are relevant for cancer patients? Cancer patients and therefore ECPC are very well aware surgery and radiotherapy are cornerstones to treating cancer patients and the advancements made in recent years have been crucial in improving survival. The continuous evolution of these technologies is of primary importance for cancer patients, not only to increase outcome, but also to decrease toxicity levels, cut rehabilitation time and overall improve patients’ quality-of-life. What has been most helpful in allowing you to carry on with your everyday life? mHealth plays an important role in providing new solutions to old problems. In particular, patient-reported outcomes have been greatly improved through advances in mHealth, making communications between patients and healthcare professionals easier and faster. The patient-friendly approach to many of these technologies can greatly enhances the cancer patient journey. We appreciate the EU’s and other stakeholders’ increasing focus on eHealth, but we need concrete advances on the implementation side and sustained investments. We do not see mhealth and eHealth as revolutions, but as evolutions: better and faster ways to solve old problems and provide better outcomes for patients. Do you think the patients you represent have enough access to optimal care and that your members know enough about what is available to support you? Absolutely not! Access to essential cancer treatments varies considerably from country-to-country and region-to-region but in general access to optimal care is a major issue. For example, more than 65% of cancer patients in Romania who should have access to some...
Every family has a cancer story. If you have not had direct personal experience of cancer, the chances are that you know a loved one, a friend or a colleague who has. More than three million people in Europe are diagnosed with cancer every year, and 1.7 million cancer deaths are recorded annually. The death and illness caused by cancer exacts a heavy toll on individuals, communities and the economy. Finding smart ways to improve outcomes for all is essential. Cancer care has advanced dramatically in recent times but survival rates and outcomes still vary depending on where you live. This is because access to ‘multimodal care’ – including surgery, radiotherapy, medicines and palliative care – are excellent in some corners of Europe and dismal in others. This challenge is so urgent that The Lancet Oncology coordinated two Commissions to examine the economic case for stepping up investment in cancer surgery and access to radiotherapy, with an emphasis on the return on investment in terms of lives saved as well as economic benefits. Impact of radiotherapy Radiotherapy has come a long way in a relatively short time. The ability to reduce and destroy tumours with a targeted dose of radiation is a valuable element of cancer treatment. It is recommended for approximately 50% of new cancer patients. However, despite this, more than 90% of people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) lack access to radiotherapy. A report by the Lancet Oncology Commission ‘Expanding global access to radiotherapy’ estimates that by 2035 12 million patients per year in LMICs would benefit from radiotherapy. This life-saving technology requires investment and long-term thinking. A reasonable question for governments, hospitals and insurers is whether the investment is worth it. a report by the Global Taskforce on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control (GTFRCC) , written by...