One third of cancers can be prevented by adopting healthy habits

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On the occasion of the celebration of the World Health Day on Sunday, 7 AprilQuirónsalud hospitals in Andalusia, with their centres in Seville (Sacred Heart, Infanta Luisa y Mother and Child), Malaga, Marbella, Huelva, Cordoba y Campo de Gibraltarhighlight the importance of adopting healthy lifestyle habits as a preventive measure. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least one third of cancers can be prevented if we eradicate harmful risk factors in our daily practice.

Breast cancer is already the most diagnosed tumour in the world, surpassing lung cancer for the first time, being this type of tumour the most frequent among women in Spain. Survival five years after diagnosis of breast cancer is 82.8%, a percentage that has increased exponentially in the last 20 years thanks to advances in early diagnosis and treatment. This is why the radiologist at the Breast Unit from Hospital Quirónsalud Infanta Luisa Fausto Rubiopoints out that prevention is particularly important in order to achieve this radical change in the prognosis of the disease, to which end he states that "it is essential to carry out mammography check-ups annually or every two years, at the latest, from the age of 40 onwards", as "diagnosis by image is years ahead of clinical diagnosis as there are signs that are detected up to four years earlier in a mammogram than what you notice in a manual examination of a breast, for example".

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the world. "Tobacco continues to be the main risk factor in the appearance of the tumour, but we must also pay attention to the influence on health of new habits that are consolidating, such as electronic cigarettes or vaping", says the doctor. José María IgnacioHead of the Pneumology from Hospital Quirónsalud Marbella. The expert points out that in the last 40 years there has been an increase in the survival rate of these patients "due to prevention campaigns and scientific advances". In this sense, the Marbella hospital is a pioneer in the implementation of a new technique that improves the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer, the Cryoebus. "It improves the results obtained compared to conventional techniques by obtaining larger tissue samples for biopsy," he explains.

Another striking figure relates to the detection of digestive cancer. Tumours of the colon and rectum are the third most common. Experts predict that 80,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2024 or, in other words, "one out of every four tumours diagnosed (28%) will be from the digestive tract", stresses Dr César Ramírez, head of the  General and Digestive Surgery from Hospital Quirónsalud Málaga. The most frequent of these types of tumours is colorectal cancer, and it is also the most prevalent tumour when both sexes are taken into account. The expert calls for primary prevention, which consists of eliminating avoidable risk factors, as well as what is called "secondary prevention of a tumour: early diagnosis. Today there are two essential tools for the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer: screening campaigns to detect occult blood in faeces and colonoscopy, which is the most important test and should be performed on anyone with non-specific bleeding from the digestive tract or any suspicion of colon cancer, so that the tumour can be diagnosed early".

The type of cancer that affects the prostate is listed below. Prostate health is fundamental to men's well-being and experts point out that the prevention of the different conditions requires constant care of the prostate. Although advances in the treatment of prostate pathologies, such as the inclusion of robotic surgery, Dr. Juan Lealspecialist in Urology from Quirónsalud Sagrado Corazón HospitalDr. Leal points out that "prevention should always be the first objective and that it should be extended to any pathology, regardless of its severity, from prostatitis to prostate cancer". To this end, Dr. Leal stresses the importance of following a healthy lifestyle, based on a balanced diet and physical activity, which is associated with better urinary function and general prostate health, and also taking into account stress control and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake.

The diagnosis and prognosis of cervical cancer has declined steadily over the last 50 years. This is mainly due to the implementation of screening plans and the strengthening of prevention methods, especially the HPV vaccine, the main cause of the appearance of this tumour. In this regard, as pointed out by José Antonio Vargasgynaecologist at the Hospital Materno-Infantil Quirónsalud SevilleIn the words of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology, "opting for vaccination as an effective method against HPV means saving lives". In addition, early detection continues to be key to a more favourable diagnosis of this type of tumour, which accounts for more than 2,300 new cases a year, according to the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology. "We must stress the message that prevention offers us a better prognosis for the disease and that the message that cancer can be cured when it is detected in its early stages must get through," he concludes. Adolfo LópezHead of the Gynaecology from Hospital Materno-Infantil Quirónsalud Seville.

For her part, Dr. Soledad OjedaHead of Service of Cardiology from Hospital Quirónsalud Córdobareminds that cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death in the world, claiming almost 18 million lives each year. In Spain, the mortality rate attributed to cardiovascular disease is 254 per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cardiovascular disease encompasses a series of disorders which, as well as affecting the heart, also affect the circulatory system and therefore include cerebrovascular disease, peripheral arteriopathy, as well as venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. The expert states that "we must focus our efforts not only on the treatment of cardiovascular disease and prevention, but also on health promotion; it is essential to make the population aware of the importance of following a heart-healthy lifestyle, starting in the early stages of life". In this sense, he stresses that implementing self-care measures would reduce "drastically", by more than 50%, the incidence of circulatory system diseases..

Another risk factor that influences the development of cancer is obesity. Obesity is a chronic disease characterised by the accumulation of excessive body fat. It is defined by the body mass index (BMI), which is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of height in metres. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obesity. The doctor Enrique Aycarthead of service of General and Digestive Surgery from Quirónsalud Campo de Gibraltar Hospitaloffers the keys to preventing it. "Obesity is increasing in both children and adults due to a lack of prevention. In this sense, the problem has a marked educational character in terms of diet and lifestyle habits. There is a considerable problem of childhood obesity, due to the recent consumption of many products with high levels of cholesterol and sugars that should be avoided, such as processed products, sweets, pastries, etc. .... To this we must add the recommendation to lead an active and healthy life. Nowadays many young people have a sedentary routine, for example, due to new technologies, which leads to inactivity in the physical area and, therefore, a tendency towards obesity", the specialist points out.

Finally, we must pay attention to the largest organ of our body: the skin. The diagnosis of melanoma has increased notably, although fortunately these are cases in which the disease presents itself in its early stages. In this situation it is all the more important to remember all the preventive measures,'' he says. Carolina Viladermatologist at the Hospital Quirónsalud Huelva. These preventive habits are very easy to integrate into our daily routine such as the use of sun protection throughout the year (with reapplication approximately every two hours), the use of sunglasses, hats and clothes with sun filters, avoiding sunburn or prolonged exposure, monthly self-examination (ABCDE rule, which is the asymmetry of the lesion, irregular borders, colour, diameter and evolution).

All the experts from the different hospitals of the Quirónsalud healthcare group in Andalusia agree in underlining the importance of everyday gestures as beneficial factors for our health. They insist that promoting these healthy habits in the closest setting, the family environment, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, following a low-fat Mediterranean diet and avoiding tobacco and alcohol consumption, will undoubtedly reduce the probability of the appearance of certain types of cancer.