Cancer remains a leading cause of death worldwide. However, the clinical community is fighting hard to finally beat the disease, while at the same time striving to find new ways to improve and extend patients’ lives. The Mundipharma network of independent associated companies is proud to be part of this endeavor and we are actively seeking alliances to develop new ‘smart’ chemotherapy options for underserved groups of patients with cancer.
Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms. One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs; the latter process is referred to as metastasis. Metastases are the primary cause of death from cancer.1
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020. The most common in 2020 (in terms of new cases of cancer) were: 1
- breast (2.26 million cases);
- lung (2.21 million cases);
- colon and rectum (1.93 million cases);
- prostate (1.41 million cases);
- skin (non-melanoma) (1.20 million cases); and
The most common causes of cancer death in 2020 were:
- stomach (1.09 million cases).
- lung (1.80 million deaths);
- colon and rectum (935 000 deaths);
- liver (830 000 deaths);
- stomach (769 000 deaths); and
- breast (685 000 deaths).
What are the risk factors for cancers?
Tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and air pollution are risk factors for cancer (and other noncommunicable diseases).1
Some chronic infections are risk factors for cancer; this is a particular issue in in low- and middle-income countries. Approximately 13% of cancers diagnosed in 2018 globally were attributed to carcinogenic infections, including Helicobacter pylori, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and Epstein-Barr virus.1
Hepatitis B and C viruses and some types of HPV increase the risk for liver and cervical cancer, respectively. Infection with HIV substantially increases the risk of cancers such as cervical cancer.1
What is the treatment for cancers?
A correct cancer diagnosis is essential for appropriate and effective treatment because every cancer type requires a specific treatment regimen. Treatment usually includes radiotherapy, chemotherapy and/or surgery. Determining the goals of treatment is an important first step. The primary goal is generally to cure cancer or to considerably prolong life. Improving the patient's quality of life is also an important goal. This can be achieved by support for the patient’s physical, psychosocial and spiritual well-being and palliative care in terminal stages of cancer.1