A multitude of factors, genetic and environmental, increase the risk of developing cancer.
The increase in oncological diseases is due not only to a better diagnosis, but also to an effective increase in the incidence of certain types of cancer, particularly those linked to excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, type of diet in Western countries, not forgetting occupational cancer, pollution in all its aspects and an increased life expectancy.
Oncology is the medical specialty that treats cancer and oncologists are the specialists who fight it.
Cancer is a worrying health problem for the Portuguese population. Its importance is fully justified by its growing morbidity and mortality rate.
In Portugal, 37,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed each year, with breast cancer being the most frequent in women and cancer of the colon and rectum, the most frequent in men.
The practice of Oncology today is a synthesis of multiple knowledge and experiences, which requires the presence of a multidisciplinary team of professionals with experience and training. This team must work in coordination, led by the element with a most comprehensive training, which is the Oncologist.
Fighting cancer encompasses, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of patients as a multidisciplinary specialty, where specialists from various medical areas intervene, such as medical oncology, surgery, radiotherapy, histology, clinical pathology and, depending on the type of malignancy, other specialties such as Senology (breast cancer), Haematology (leukaemia, lymphomas), Gastroenterology (cancers of the stomach, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder), Endocrinology (cancer of the thyroid, adrenal), Pulmonology (cancer of the lung ), Otolaryngology (cancer of the oral cavity), Gynaecology (cancers of the uterus, ovary, vulva) Urology (cancers of the kidney, bladder, prostate, testis), Neurosurgery (cancers of the central nervous system), Anaesthesiology (treatment of acute and chronic pain ), Psychiatry (psychological and psychiatric patient follow-up), Imaging and Nuclear Medicine (imaging exams for all cancers).
Patients often complain of lack of appetite, weight loss, changes in taste and smell, fatigue, psychological disturbances and pain. A cancer assessment begins with a medical history and physical examination. Both help the doctor assess a patient’s cancer risk and to determine what tests are needed in reaching a diagnosis.
To reach the diagnosis of cancer, a histologic exam is necessary which requires a biopsy.
When cancer is detected, other tests help to know its exact location and whether or not it has spread to other organs (metastases).
That said, the appropriate treatment is planned and the prognosis is determined.
Follow-up of patients treated for cancer should always be in a consultation with a Medical Oncologist to assess how the patient responds to treatment. The most effective treatment is the one that provides a cure for the patient.
The diagnosis of an oncological disease results in many anxieties and doubts, some of them to do with day-to-day living activities.
As an example, these are some questions that our patients usually question:
To answer these questions and promote a comprehensive monitoring of cancer patients and their family/caregivers, we now have a Cancer Patient Manager in each of our Day Care Hospitals.
MAIN FUNCTIONS OF THE CANCER PATIENT MANAGER