Disease information

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All cells contain the same genetic code that is responsible, depending on the part of it to be expressed, to control the growth and differentiation of different cell types.

Most cells have a limited life with a cycle where they are generated, grow and die, in contrast to the other as part of the nervous system does not have the capacity to regenerate once they have differentiated. There are a series of control mechanisms that allow the orderly growth of the cells to maintain the smooth functioning of all systems that make up our body. Sometimes these mechanisms are incapable of controlling the growth of a cell or a cell group (clone) beginning to grow uncontrolled manner, resulting in a tumor or neoplastic process.

Not all features of neoplasms are malignant, some of them appear as a small tumor without clinical impact. The problem arises when that group of cells acquires a capacity for continued growth and proliferation with loss of cell differentiation (anaplasia) These malignant neoplastic cells can grow and invade adjacent structures unstructured, as well as being able to spread to other areas than the body either by lymphatic and / or hematogenous, producing crops at a distance known as metastasis. The cancer is a malignant neoplasm.


When we talk about cancer we can not talk about a single cause, we believe that the causes are multiple and varied with an overlap between all of them, whose final result will be that a particular cell group alters its normal cycle of growth and is out of control.

Primarily in cancer coexist some endogenous factors, determined by genetic and other exogenous, mediated by environmental exposures. In some types of malignancies these factors can act in isolation and in others together.

1. Environmental factors. By epidemiological studies have examined the causal relationship between various factors and certain kinds of tumors. Some factors are not able by themselves to cause the tumor but acting as interveners (cocarcinógenos) Here are the most important:

Snuff: considered the first carcinogen, linked to cancers of the lung, esophagus, mouth, larynx and bladder. He is credited with responsibility for 35% of all tumors in men and 10 - 15% in women. The relationship snuff - cancer remains a linear progression.

Diet: There are no definitive epidemiological studies, but it is known that a diet high in fiber reduces the incidence of colon cancer. The ingestion of food contaminated with aflotoxinas is a cause of liver cancer.

Alcohol: is attributed to 3% of deaths from malignant neoplasms. The snuff and alcohol enhances its impact.

Sunlight: the fraction ultraviolet injuries can occur in the genetic material of epithelial cells. It is the primary risk factor for skin cancers, including melanoma. Primarily affect subjects with light skin and prolonged exposure to the sun.

Ionizing radiation: nearly all tissues are susceptible, breaking chemical bonds cell. The tissues are more sensitive breast, thyroid and bone marrow.

Iatrogenic factors: it has been found carcinogenic capacity of some drugs and hormones. Taking estrogen, for example, appears to increase the risk of endometrial cancer.

Microorganisms: there is an association between infection with certain viruses and parasites and the risk of developing specific malignancies. Virus hepatitis B and C = hepatocellular carcinoma. = Papilloma virus in cervical carcinoma. Epstein - Barr virus = Burkitt lymphoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

Reproductive Factors: nulliparity favors carcinomas of the endometrium, breast and ovary, by contrast multiparity encourage promiscuity and cervical cancer.

Chemical factors: many substances act as carcinogens. It is the classic relationship between asbestos and mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer.

2. Genetic factors. The vital role played by various genetic alterations in the oncogenesis is revealed through a series of phenomena known as the role of family history as a risk factor for the development of various malignancies, particularly observed in breast cancer and Colorectal, or the association between certain cancers and certain chromosomal abnormalities or defects in the repair mechanisms of genetic code.

Regardless of these phenomena observed accepting the existence of factors that act on areas of genetic code that control growth and cell cycle, changing it by mutations or inappropriate activations.


The cancer incidence is higher in developed countries. In Spain is the second leading cause of death (22% of deaths) The autonomous communities with the lowest mortality rate are Madrid, Castilla - Leon, Castile - La Mancha and Galicia, on the contrary, Cantabria and Catalonia have the highest figures.

The incidence is higher in males than in females, in humans are mainly due to tumors of the respiratory (lung and larynx) followed by digestive (stomach, colon, esophagus) women in the highest proportion to breast cancer, followed as the man of the digestive (colon and rectum, stomach, esophagus) These figures refer to what happens in Spain, since there is great variability, for example, in the U. S. lung cancer already exceeds that of breast cancer in women.

Regarding the tumors that occur in childhood, the most common are leukemias, followed by tumors of the nervous system.


Most cancers are classified according to a system called NMT, with three parameters:

T: parameter indicating length of the tumor.

N: parameter that indicates whether there is involvement of lymph nodes and to what degree are affected.

M: indicates the presence or absence of metastasis.

This classification is used to get an idea of what might be the level of outreach and treatment to follow, depending on the chances that the tumor is healing. It is a classification that tries to be prognostic and diagnostic.

Not all tumors can be classified according to these parameters, as with hematological tumors.


The prevention plays an important role in controlling this disease. Can be developed at three levels.

1 Primary prevention: Try to remove the causes that produce the disease. It is not possible to do in all types of cancer as many of them are unaware of the cause - effect relationship. Due to the large number of epidemiological studies have identified several factors related directly or indirectly with the onset of the disease.

Many of these factors are part of our daily lives. In this sense, is basic awareness through education programs that show the need to reduce the consumption of alcohol and snuff, changing dietary patterns by reducing fat intake, increasing consumption of fiber, fruit and vegetables in the daily food. Another factor that should be controlled is excessive exposure to sunlight and advise the use of protective creams. It also will take the necessary measures to avoid contact with physical or chemical carcinogens known, here plays an important role to fulfill the safety standards at work.

2nd Secondary prevention: It is based on the early detection of the tumor, so the chances of cure are highest. Can be achieved through knowledge on the part of the population through information campaigns of those signs or symptoms that alert on the appearance of the tumor, which is the case of skin cancer where growth, change of color bleeding or emerging from a stain on the skin can put us on the trail of a melanoma, a disease in its early stages has a high survival.

Another way to carry out a proper secondary prevention programs are early diagnosis (screening) in populations susceptible to a particular type of cancer. To do this we must have a suitable and inexpensive technique able to detect those cases that can be successfully treated in this way is achieved an improvement in forecasting an increase in life expectancy and lower mortality in a given group patients. We recommend early diagnosis of breast cancer through mammography for all women over 50 years, the early diagnosis of endometrial cancer by cytology with Pap smears in women over age 30, conducting a colonoscopy for detection of cancer of the colon and rectum in patients with a family predisposition to suffer this type of cancer, and so on. There are other methods of screening to detect other cancers but has yet to be clarified its usefulness.

3rd Tertiary Prevention: Once diagnosed with cancer has to get a return as possible to their patient's normal life, helping him to overcome his illness both in terms of mental and physical.


The standard treatment for cancer is based on three fundamental pillars are: surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. These therapies can be administered jointly or individually depending on the type of tumor and the prognosis.

1) Surgery. Ideally perform a curative surgery in which it is removed from total and definitive way the tumor, but unfortunately this surgery can be performed only in tumors with an early diagnosis, which do not affect vital areas without distant metastases. The cure is achieved only in 60% of the surgery performed with curative intent.

There are other types of surgery are:

Preventive or prophylactic surgery: the removal of precancerous lesions that can become malignant.

Palliative surgery: treat by removing part of the tumor mass that causes complications and prevents the patient develops a normal life, improve their quality of life.

Cytoreductive surgery: it is to reduce the tumor mass, then apply another treatment that can be chemotherapy and / or radiotherapy.

Surgery for metastasis: sometimes, when metastasis is unique and has removed the primary tumor, you can try their removal.

2) chemotherapy. It is the use of drugs that selectively act on tumor cells by preventing their proliferation. Most of them operate on the cell cycle, interfering in the synthesis of DNA and RNA or inhibiting the cellular machinery that makes it possible to synthesize new elements to form new tumor cells. This treatment has two main problems:

The resistance that many of the cells to develop drugs, which often requires a treatment with several drugs at once.

Adverse effects: they are not damaged neoplastic cells that are in the process of proliferation, such as bone marrow cells, which regenerate hair cells or gastrointestinal tract. So to alleviate these effects requires a treatment support.

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