This year will be diagnosed almost 280,000 cancers in Spain, 12% more than the 247,000 of 2015, according to the data presented by the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology this morning (SEOM) based on Redecan, the Spanish Network of Cancer Registries. In the same period, taking data from the INE, mortality for this group of diseases rose by 1.7%. In both new cases and deaths, growth among women is double that among men, a clear indicator that the feminization of cancer continues.
Thus, the increase in mortality in these four years was 2.5% in women and less than 1.2% in men. And the number of new diagnoses rose by 17.4% among those affected and 8.2% in men.
The main cause of this uneven behavior is in the reflection of the late incorporation of women to smoking, has indicated Ruth Vera, president of the SEOM. In fact, if in 2017 the three cancers that were diagnosed more frequently to the patients were the breast, colorectal and uterus, in 2018 the lung occupies the third position (it was the fourth). And there is another indicator that reflects how the change of habits affects women. In them, the first two tumors increase, while the two most frequent in men, prostate and lung, lower. This is due to the aforementioned addiction to smoking, but also to other practices such as alcohol consumption and unhealthy diets. Traditionally, when there were many women who did not work outside the home, they were more protected against these factors. The equalization of tasks also entails the equating of customs. In men, so to speak, the damage that could be done had already been reached.
Vera has explained that the large increase in absolute numbers has several causes. Some are positive, such as greater early detection due, in part, to screening programs. Others, which could also be considered positive, such as aging. But there are many that are preventable or, at least, reducible, both individually and collectively: tobacco, alcohol, obesity and sedentary lifestyle.
The president of the SEOM has highlighted some success stories, such as the decrease in gastric tumors, which is common to all Western countries, due to a lower activity of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, associated with changes in diet and other habits (less salt, alcohol and tobacco).
Inequality between men and women also manifests itself when measuring the probability of developing cancer. As a whole, 43% of men and 27% of women will develop one. In general, breast and gynecological tumors make women more likely before age 60. From there, with a risk for both sexes that is around 10%, the trend of men shoots up.
The difference between diagnoses and deaths (about 130,000 a year) explains that more and more people in Spain have cancer or have overcome it. Among the first, more than 770,000, is the singer Luz Casal, who participates in this year's campaign to report hereditary tumors (around 10%). Among those who have overcome it is the journalist and exfutbolista Michael Robinson, also a contributor to the campaign. On average, survival is at 53%. The goal is for it to reach 70% by 2030, but that takes a lot more research, like notes the Spanish Association of Cancer Research (Aseica).