February 4th marks the World Day Against Cancer. In 2016, 22,601 deaths were registered in Costa Rica, 4,857 of which were due to malignant tumors (cancer).
The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that cancer is a process of uncontrolled growth and spread of cells. It can occur almost anywhere on the body. The tumor usually invades the surrounding tissue and can cause metastasis at distant points in the body.
Many types of cancer could be prevented by avoiding exposure to common risk factors such as tobacco smoke. In addition, a significant percentage of cancers can be cured by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, especially if they are detected at an early stage.
According to the WHO there are several ways to prevent the disease. One of them is through the modification of feeding habits. There is a link between overweight and obesity and many types of cancer, such as esophagus, colorectal, breast, endometrium and kidney cancers. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables can have a protective effect against many types of cancer, says the organization, which also warns that excessive consumption of red and canned meats may be associated with an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.
On the other hand, regular physical activity and the maintenance of a healthy body weight, together with a healthy diet, considerably reduce the risk of developing the disease.
Dr. Eduardo Sáenz Corrales, surgeon and oncologist at the Clínica Bíblica, commented that cancer is a genetic disease of our DNA and it’s also degenerative.
It is the number one cause of death in adults, it is a malignant oncological disease that has reached the first place, including cardiovascular diseases and traffic accidents. It is estimated that in the coming decades 20% of the population will suffer from the disease,”
The doctor said that each type of cancer has very specific risk factors, but there are common factors that have been determined by WHO. The specialist explained that the most common type of cancer is skin cancer, both in men and women. However, it’s also the one with lower mortality rates.
By gender, in the case of women the most frequent types are breast, cervix, ovarian and digestive tumors. In men, the most frequent –after skin cancer- is prostate, lung and digestive tract (colon and stomach) cancer,”
explained the doctor.
In Costa Rica, the deadliest types of cancer have been:
• Cancer in digestive organs.
• Cancer in genitourinary organs (female and male reproductive system, ovaries, womb, uterus, cervix, urethra, bladder, prostate).
• Cancer in the lymphatic tissue, hematopoietic organs (related to the bone marrow) and independent multiple areas.
• Cancer in bones, connective tissue, soft tissues (less frequent and born of fat, muscle, tendons and bones), skin and breast.
• Cancer in respiratory and intra-thoracic organs (such as lung).
• Other malignant tumors.