World Cancer Day Gets Attention

This year, on the occasion of World Cancer Day, specialists and patients at the Val d’Hebron University Hospital met for a day to exchange progress, experiences and information. As stated in the dictionary of the Institute of Catalan Studies, information allows us to acquire new knowledge that helps us expand our knowledge of a specific subject. “Information is power”recalls Elena Santos, TVE’s health journalist, who this year delivered a day full of inspiring talks and two roundtables, one dedicated to research and the other to patients.

Although giant strides have been made over the past decade, there is still much to learn about cancer. It is currently the second leading cause of death in the world, claiming more than 9.6 million lives each year. We know that the number of diagnosed tumors has recently increased and will continue to increase. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 19 million people worldwide were diagnosed with cancer last year. The Medical Oncology Service of Val d’Hebron alone carried out more than 82,000 visits, to which are added more than 14,000 visits to the Radiation Oncology Service and more than 28,000 visits to the Adult Hematology and Hemotherapy Service. It is estimated that by 2040, the number of people diagnosed with cancer could reach 28.9 million. This is partly due to the aging population, as cancer is associated with aging. Before age 40, the chance of developing cancer in men is 1 in 71, and in women it is 1 in 51. But after age 60, this chance increases to 1 in 3 for men and 1 in 4 for women. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), 26.5% of the Spanish population will be over 65 years old. “The risk of getting cancer will increase, which is another reason to investigate and understand what is happening in our bodies that causes cancer.”– Dr. Antoni Roman, the hospital’s director of health, commented in his welcoming speech. “We are currently in a race to understand and treat all types of tumors; The race is uneven, in some we are progressing faster than in others, but we are encouraged by the achievements.”, he added. Dr. Anthony Roman thanked the patients for their cooperation in moving towards the goal.

Personalized patient care

We also know that cancer is not a single disease, but a group of more than 200 diseases with many different causes and prognoses. It all starts with a group of cells that get out of the body’s control and multiply without any instructions. This is nothing more than our body attacking itself. Often cancer cells appear normal, and the body cannot detect them or respond as if they were a foreign agent. This explains why many tumors are not visible or painful in the early stages. We often know something is wrong when tumors are so large that they can press on a nerve or form a lump. In this case, you need to consult a specialist and avoid Doctor Google. Journalist Elisenda Camps, well-being expert and member of the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC), provided patients with the tools to cope with their disease in a context where news about cancer is constantly appearing both in the media and on social networks. networks. “Cancer is the most searched disease on Google.”– he confirmed. “27% of published health news is about cancer, and in 10 years health news has quadrupled, but its credibility has not increased.”, he warned. To resolve doubts, he defended the credibility of medical teams and at conferences in which patients were given a voice, such as this one in Val d’Hebron. He also asked the media “Be careful to compare information and do not create false expectations”.

Elisenda Camps advocated prevention and remembered the three commandments: do not smoke, do not exercise or move, and watch your diet. “If we get along well with each other, we can avoid half the tumors.”– the professionals reminded.

Accompanying patients: we know how to listen

One of the most delicate and key aspects of the disease is communicating the diagnosis. Dr Cristina Saura, head of the breast cancer department at the Val d’Hebron University Hospital and head of the VHIO breast cancer group, said that “Just as every tumor is different and needs to be understood differently, every patient is unique.”. “One of the questions patients ask us most is whether they can continue to lead a normal life, what they should change and, depending on the point in their life, whether they can get pregnant or stay pregnant. The answer to the latest news questions is ‘yes'”, said. In Val d’Hebrone there is an interdisciplinary program for information and special monitoring of women diagnosed with a breast tumor during pregnancy.

When diagnosed with cancer and in the early stages of treatment, patients and their families find themselves in a very vulnerable position where support is critical. Creating connections, empathy and creating trust with patients so that they do not seek dubious information or alternative treatments that could be harmful is the “keynote” of the Val d’Hebron team. A sample of this team contributed to this table through the voices of Laura Andurell, Lead Oncology Dietitian, Nutrition Support; Jaume Martínez, psycho-oncologist from the medical oncology service, and Laura Tierno, nurse from the hematology service, which also included Dr. Cristina Saura and the two protagonists of the day: Ana Luis and Marie Angeles, two patients from Val d’Hebron.

“A cancer diagnosis is like an earthquake. The first few days when you have to absorb the news are a moment of uncertainty and recovery of your ecosystem.”Marie Angeles shared. A company of professionals helps in this process. Also later. “My priority for a while was to stay alive, but when the treatment is over, it won’t be over; You may have to adjust your life, and it’s important to talk about it so that those around you understand.”, emphasized Ana Luis. Being a psychologist by profession, she especially noted the work that her colleagues are doing in this process. One of his colleagues, Jaume Martinez, a psycho-oncologist at the Medical Oncology Service, left an interesting proposal on the table. “As a society, we have had a cultural taboo around cancer for some time. We’ve made a lot of progress, but in general people don’t know how to talk to patients. It would be good to teach this in schools.”said.

Today’s research, tomorrow’s treatment

The importance of research in the treatment and diagnosis of disease has taken precedence over patient experience. The second roundtable, “Research at the Vall d’Hebron, a reference center for oncology,” highlighted the privilege of the Vall d’Hebron hospital campus in Barcelona to conduct research and provide care in the same premises. Dr. Teresa Macarulla, Director of the Cancer Service’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Program and VHIO’s Upper Gastrointestinal and Endocrine Tumor Group, emphasized that ““Val d’Hebron’s distinctive feature is the close connection between research and assistance”.

“VHIR and VHIO researchers are not locked in a cave with pipettes and samples, in Val d’Hebron we talk to doctors who ask us questions and together we search for answers. We also ask patients whether the treatment went well for them or not. .”– explained Dr. Hector Palmer, head of the VHIR stem cell and cancer group.

Dr. Raquel Hladun, a VHIR Pediatric Oncology and Hematology Group Fellow working in the Pediatric Oncology and Hematology Service, spoke about the differences in pediatric oncology research. “This has an added complexity because childhood cancer is a rare disease, it costs us more to fund, and to have enough patients, we need more time to draw conclusions. To move forward, we work in networks with international centers”he qualified.

A particularly emotional moment was when the researchers dedicated a few words to the anonymous people, patients and families who are helping fund the research. “We have a treatment that became a reality thanks to a family who chose the direction of research many years ago.”– recalls Dr. Raquel Hladlun.

“Even though we are light years ahead of countries like the US when it comes to philanthropy, progress has been made in recent years and we should be grateful for that.”would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Juan Angel Recio, head of the VHIR Melanoma Biomedical Research Group. “We as researchers need to engage with society and patients. Let them participate in projects, listen to them and understand what concerns them”said.

At the end of the day, Dr. Enriqueta Felip, Head of the Medical Oncology Service of Val d’Hebron and Head of the VHIO Thoracic Tumor and Head and Neck Cancer Group, thanked the specialists and patients for their participation. With 280,000 cancer cases expected to be diagnosed in the state this year, it is important to prevent, research, reduce the time between diagnosis and treatment of the disease, and listen and engage patients. “Today’s research is tomorrow’s treatment”he left like a reflection.

Val d’Hebron, expert in cancer research and treatment

Val d’Hebron is an international reference in the field of treatment and research for cancer patients, which is distributed through the Val d’Hebron Institute of Reservation (VHIR) and the Val d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), benefiting many hospital patients. It was last year that it became the first center in the state to be accredited by the Organization of European Cancer Institutes (OECI) as a comprehensive cancer treatment center, which recognizes excellence in cancer care and the strength of its research. Its commitment to developing clinical research to offer treatments to patients is exemplified by nearly a thousand open-label studies in adults and more than 50 in children.

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