Cancer is a word that nobody likes to hear, especially when it comes with a medical diagnosis. What a few decades ago was a little talked about disease, today has become something much more frequent, as it is common to know someone who has already had a tumor or undergone cancer treatments. Incidentally, the trend is for the number of cancer patients to remain very high: according to data from the National Cancer Institute (INCA)), 704 thousand new cases of cancer are expected in Brazil per year in the period between 2023 and 2025.
Along with this scenario, the importance of the role of the oncologist, not only in the discovery and treatment, but also in how to prevent cancer, deserves to be highlighted. On July 9th, Oncologist’s Day is celebrated and, to emphasize the relevance of this professional in the lives of cancer patients and their families, Care for Life, in partnership with oncologist Fernando Zamprogno, prepared a general article on cancer. , as a way of alerting people about the disease and the need to take care of it throughout life and to look for a specialist as soon as the first symptoms of cancer are noticed. Check it out!
Oncology: what is this specialty?
Oncology is the medical specialization that helps in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of tumors and various types of cancers. According to Oncoguia Institute, the word oncology has two meanings: the Greek word “onkos” (onco), which means mass, tumor, and the term “logia”, which means study. Therefore, we can say that Oncology is the branch of Medicine that studies tumors and the professional responsible for this area is an oncologist, popularly known as a cancer doctor.
What is the role of an oncologist?
The oncologist is a very important professional in the treatment of cancer and essential to share information about the disease and help promote the well-being of the patient after diagnosis. Check out some of its main functions:
- Diagnose cancer;
- indicate the best treatments against cancer, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, evaluating the particularities of each case;
- monitor the cancer patient throughout the entire treatment;
- prescribe medications that help reduce the symptoms of cancer and the discomfort caused by the disease, such as local pain.
What is the difference between a benign tumor and a malignant tumor?
Tumor and cancer are words that are often associated. A tumor is nothing more than an abnormal cell growth that can appear anywhere in the body. When the patient discovers that he has a tumor, the first question to be answered is whether the tumor in question is benign or malignant. But what does each of these types mean?
According to oncologist Fernando Zamprogno, there are several characteristics that differentiate these tumors: “Benign tumors are those with a passive behavior, which do not threaten anyone’s life, have very slow growth and, in general, do not have the capacity to spread throughout the body. body, such as lipomas and fibroids. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, have the capacity to invade tissues in which they did not originate and travel in the body, causing metastasis”, clarified the specialist. Therefore, it is important to clarify a fundamental difference:
- Not every tumor is cancer;
- but every cancer is a malignant tumor.
Is it possible for a benign tumor to become a malignant tumor?
Dr. Fernando states that it is rare, but it is possible for a benign tumor to turn into a malignant tumor. The oncologist explains in which cases this transformation can occur: “There are malignant tumors caused by viruses, which have phases before becoming cancer in which the virus manifests itself in a more benign way, let’s say. An example is cervical cancer, which begins with non-malignant precursor lesions, but which need to be removed and, if not, can become malignant”, warned the professional.
What causes cancer?
The cause of cancer is very diverse. In general, cancer is caused by mutations that alter DNA structures, but there is no single specific cause for it to develop. Dr. Fernando emphasizes that it is a set of risk factors that result in the onset of the disease: “Among them, we have smoking, which is the biggest cause of preventable cancer, viruses such as Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, HPV, HTLV, Epstein-Barr virus and HIV – all are viruses that can cause cancer at some point in life. its evolution”. Other related causes are:
- sedentary lifestyle;
- diet rich in processed and ultra-processed products;
- saturated fat;
- low amount of fiber in the diet;
- excessive sun exposure;
- familial genetic predisposition, which accounts for 15% of cancer cases.
About genetic predisposition, the oncologist explains that when a person is born with a mutated gene, they end up having a greater predisposition to the disease: “About 90% of these individuals will have cancer, at least until they are 60 years old”.
Types of cancer: know the 10 most common
- Skin cancer;
- breast cancer;
- prostate cancer;
- Ovary cancer;
- cervical cancer;
- lung cancer;
- colorectal cancer;
- stomach cancer;
- liver cancer;
- thyroid cancer.
What are the symptoms of cancer?
It is important to note that cancer, regardless of type, does not cause any alarming signs when it appears. “The symptom is a more advanced event, when the disease already has a certain volume, depending on where it appeared. So, when I wait for the symptoms, I often end up arriving late in the disease”, warned the oncologist. When they resolve to appear, cancer symptoms can affect (and a lot) the patient’s quality of life in several ways, causing, for example:
- loss of appetite;
- behavior change;
- shortness of breathe;
It is important to note that each type of cancer, in a given location, can cause a specific signal. “There is no symptom that says there is cancer behind it. The symptoms are nonspecific and that is what makes this discovery through these manifestations more difficult”, highlighted Dr. Fernando.
Understand the importance of early diagnosis!
Early diagnosis is always the key to successful cancer treatments. “All the campaigns that we have worldwide talking about breast cancercervical cancer, large intestine cancer, colon, lung cancer and prostate cancer for an early diagnosis is because we know that this causes the greater impact on survival. Much more than chemotherapy, than hormone blockades and radiotherapy, it is surgery to be performed at the right time”, reinforced the oncologist. Therefore, it is so necessary to have regular medical check-ups, especially if you have a predisposition to the disease.
Discover ways to treat cancer
Once you have received the diagnosis of cancer, the measures adopted for the treatment will vary for each type of cancer and for the particularities of the case. However, Dr. Fernando explains that, in general, the cancer patient will undergo surgery, discussion of chemotherapy, hormone blockade, targeted therapy or radiotherapy – again, it will depend on the type of cancer.
“When we say chemotherapy, we are not talking about a treatment, but a modality. There are over 300 drugs we can use to treat it. In some situations, it is possible to mix some treatments so that the patient has a greater chance of healing. In addition, there is the surgery that will always be part of the process”, detailed the specialist.
Two cases of cancer that do not require surgery are lymphomas and leukemias, due to the peculiarity of these diseases, which are present in the medulla or lymphatic vessels. However, it can still be treated with chemotherapy.
world cancer day
World Cancer Day takes place on February 4th and is a unique opportunity to share and learn information about prevention and control of various types of cancers and tumors, in addition to bringing current issues about the disease to the population.
According to the Virtual Health Library, linked to the Ministry of Health, 7.6 million people on the planet die from the disease each year. Of these, 4 million are between 30 and 69 years old. The forecast for 2025 is that 6 million deaths will occur per year. A very important piece of data is that, according to estimates, around 1.5 million deaths could be prevented with appropriate measures each year. Therefore, the role of the oncologist is fundamental for the prevention and awareness of this condition.
On July 9th, Oncologist’s Day is celebrated. This doctor specializes in treating cancer, caring for cancer patients and prescribing the most diverse types of scientifically proven treatments, such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biological therapy. Without this specialist, it would not be possible to have a concrete diagnosis of the disease. Not to mention that it is through him that the patient can have a reliable and quality treatment.
The post Care for Life.