Cancer is one of the major public health problems in Spain today. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 30-50% of cancer cases are preventable, so there is a need to reduce risk factors and implement science-based preventive strategies.
At the GCCC 360 Centre of Oncological Excellence we have a screening and early diagnosis unit focused on early detection of cancer and improving the chances of treatment success.
What is molecular diagnosis?
Molecular diagnosis allows the cancer specialist to identify possible anomalies in each patient individually and facilitates the choice of the most appropriate treatment. Current techniques make it easier to predict a response to a particular treatment for a particular cancer, or the likelihood of cancer returning after it has been eliminated.
Molecular diagnosis involves the application of a set of highly precise techniques that allow accurate diagnosis to be made using molecular biology techniques, such as genetic sequencing, immunohistochemistry, detection of polymorphisms (SNPs) or next-generation sequencing (NGS), among others.
These techniques identify possible changes in the sequence of genes, critical for the development of cancer or other abnormalities that may be present in the molecules or proteins of the cells that make up the tumour.
Rapid cancer diagnosis circuit
What is rapid cancer diagnosis?
Early diagnosis is a screening test that makes it possible to identify, within the general population, people who are affected by cancer or who have premalignant lesions not previously detected due to lack of symptoms and so try to improve their prognosis.
Screening is performed on people who are, in principle, healthy but in a risk group.
It is not a definitive diagnostic test, so people who test positive for screening should have reliable diagnostic tests to confirm the disease.
Why is early diagnosis so important?
From 30-50% of cancer cases can be prevented by developing healthier lifestyles and participating in screening programmes for the detection of possible tumours. Early diagnosis contributes to a decrease in the number of cases, as well as in mortality, mainly in breast, cervical and colon cancer.
- Breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common tumour in women worldwide, with a particular incidence in women between the ages of 45 and 65. Breast cancer screening is the most widespread among the population of our country, and it is therefore possible to diagnose it at earlier stages, as a result of which it has been possible to reduce mortality significantly.
- Colon cancer. Although colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death, with the highest number of cases recorded, if we consider both sexes together, it is one of the easiest to treat with an early diagnosis. Early diagnosis programmes are carried out by colonoscopy and allow a significant reduction in mortality from this disease.
- Cancer of the cervix or cervical cancer.Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in the world in women. Screening of healthy women using cervical cytology has clearly shown its effectiveness, since its appropriate and systematic application in certain countries has reduced the incidence and mortality of cervical cancer by 70-80%. In recent years, the incidence of cervical cancer is decreasing thanks to vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Prostate cancer.Prostate cancer is the second most common malignancy in men after skin cancer.
Early detection allows its cure and minimises the sequelae of its treatment. Because of this, screening in healthy men is essential.
What is genetic counselling and what does it consist of?
At the GCCC 360 Centre of Oncological Excellence we are aware of the importance of identifying cancer risk and implementing the necessary measures to prevent it. Therefore, we make available to our patients the Family Cancer and Genetic Counselling Unit, whose main objective is to identify and offer counselling to patients and families who, due to their history or characteristics, have a higher risk of developing cancer.
At the GCCC 360 Centre of Oncological Excellence, this Family Cancer and Genetic Counselling Unit is available to all and is carried out by the Medical Oncology Department.
Cancer and inheritance
Cancer is a common disease and many families often have at least one member who has had it.
Certain types of cancers recur in some families and this is due in some cases to external causes, such as exposure of family members to certain factors or replication of habits that increase the risk of developing cancer, such as smoking, and in other cases cancers that occur due to the abnormality of a gene that is transmitted from generation to generation.
Approximately 5-10% of all cancers are inherited, meaning that mutations or changes in certain genes are passed on to offspring. People with these mutations are more likely to develop cancer in their lifetime.
What is the genetic counselling consultation?
Today, we have accurate genetic studies to estimate the risk of developing cancer in patients and their families. At the GCCC 360 Centre of Oncological Excellence, through the genetic counselling consultation, we inform our patients and/or their relatives about the potential risk of developing cancer based on their family history, and offer them guidelines on preventive measures to be taken and clinical follow-up recommendations for early diagnosis of cancer.