Cancer cases are increasing in Spain – and in most other countries – spurred largely by the fact that people are living longer. Figures released this week by Miguel Martín, president of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), show that in 2015 there were nearly 248,000 newly diagnosed cases, representing a rise of almost 15% from 2012. The figure also overshoots the SEOM’s own forecast for 2020 by about 1,000 cases.
The data show that one out of every two men and one out of every three women will have cancer at some point in their lives, said Martín.
This proportion is already a reality: of the 247,771 cases – according to the best available estimates – diagnosed cases in 2015, close to 149,000 (representing 60%) were men. There are several causes for this: genetic, biological (due to different hormones and organs) and behavioral, said the SEOM president. And men’s higher consumption of alcohol and tobacco increases their risk factors.
The fact that people are living longer is the biggest factor in rising cancer rates
“Yet more than half of them will be cured,” added Martín to illustrate the progress made by the field of cancer treatment.
However, not all types of tumors have benefited equally from the medical advances. Of the 28,000 cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year, around 21,000 result in death. In contrast, there are around 27,000 new cases of breast cancer annually, and 6,200 fatalities, underscoring the greater therapeutic options in the latter case.
The most common types of tumors in Spain are bowel cancer (41,000 cases a year), prostate cancer (33,000), lung cancer (28,000), breast cancer (27,000) and bladder cancer (21,000). Globally, the most common cancers are lung, breast, bowel, prostate and stomach.
The fact that people are living longer is the biggest factor in rising cancer rates, as mistakes accumulate over time in the genetic code that issues instructions to our cells. But there are other factors that can play a role. Martín underscored that “a third of [cases] can be prevented” through healthier lifestyles that include not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, reducing alcohol consumption, and getting immunization against certain viruses such as hepatitis C and human papillomavirus.
English version by Susana Urra.