Most cancers (99%) develop in adults, most commonly in older adults. Therefore, cancer is infrequent in children. Nearly one out of every six adults will suffer from cancer throughout his life, whereas one in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop the illness before their twenties. Nevertheless, and owing to the profound impact of childhood cancer, a lot of research is being carried out to find out new therapies for pediatric cancer. Childhood cancers may behave very differently from adult cancers, even when they start in the same part of the body.
Most children and teenagers diagnosed with cancer can be treated successfully. Since 1969, the number of deaths from childhood cancer has decreased steadily by 66%. However, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in children 0 to 14 years of age after accidents. The 5-year survival rate for childhood cancer is about 83%, compared to 58% in the mid-1970s.
In general, cancer in children is uncommon, so it can be hard for doctors to determine the best treatment unless they know what has been most effective in other children. That’s why more than 60% of children younger than 15 years of age with cancer are treated as part of a clinical trial.
Cancer begins when healthy cells change and grow uncontrollably, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread.
Cancer is one of the main causes of mortality and morbidity all over the world. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, there were 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths in 2012. It is also calculated that 32.6 million people lived with cancer (diagnosed in the last 5 years).
An advanced stage of disease implies that cancer has already moved from where it was initially located. Generally, advanced cancers are not curable. However, they can usually be treated. Advanced cancers can cause physical symptoms that can almost always be managed or relieved. In these cases, the goal of treatment is to slow cancer growth, help to live longer and control symptoms. Treatment choices for advanced cancer depend on where the cancer was initially located, its molecular background and how much it has spread. Luckily, during the last decades new treatment options are more efficient and tolerable.
Every cancer type is unique, though, and treatments are impacting each cancer in different ways. Also, every patient is unique and there are certain groups of patients that don’t respond to certain drugs or whose cancer responds initially but then progresses after becoming resistant to treatments. Recognizing ways to identify and help these individuals is the focus of an increasing number of researchers.
The main function of the prostate is to make seminal fluid, the liquid in semen that protects, supports, and helps transport sperm. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that lies just below the bladder in front of the rectum. Attending to the International Agency of Research of Cancer estimations, prostate cancer has become the second most common cancer amongst men and represents the fifth highest cause of death from cancer in men (6,6% of the total). An estimated 1.1 million men were globally diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012.
Almost every prostate cancer is an adenocarcinoma and most prostate tumors do not extend to other parts of the body. Some prostate cancers grow very slowly and may not show symptoms or complications for years. Even when prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body, frequently it can be successfully managed, allowing men with prostate cancer to remain healthy for several years. However, if the cancer cannot be well controlled with treatment, it can cause pain, weariness, and sometimes, death. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, while the 5-year survival rate for men with prostate cancer reaches 99%, it drops to 28% for men diagnosed with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is recognized employing a blood test. PSA is a protein generated by cells in the prostate gland, whose levels are found to be higher-than-normal than the ones in men with prostate cancer, along with other non-cancerous prostate conditions. There is controversy relative to the use of the PSA test to identify prostate cancer in men without symptoms of the disease. Nowadays, the sole test that can really diagnose prostate cancer is a biopsy. Hence, there is a considerable medical need of new biomarkers for prostate cancer diagnosis that may avoid making a prostate biopsy to the large number of subjects that are free of malignant disease or that help in the identification of patients with disease but that do not need treatment.
Lung cancer has become the most common cancer worldwide for several decades and it is the most common cause of death from cancer in the world, projected to be the cause for almost one in five deaths (1.59 million deaths, 19,4% of the total), according to the International Agency of Research on Cancer 2012 estimations.
Lung cancer is classified histologically in two major forms: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC, about 85% of all lung cancers), and small-cell lung cancer (about 15%). Even though early detection and diagnosis has improved, lung cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage and has poor prognosis.
Cigarette smoking is the most relevant risk factor for lung cancer. Tobacco smoke damages cells in the lungs, causing them to grow abnormally, and for people who smoke heavily and for longer times the risk is higher.
It is known that a quick diagnose and tumor detection of lung cancers in early stages is essential, given that this type of cancer is considered very aggressive and with risk of misdiagnosis. Because of this, nowadays there is an important medical need to accomplish techniques for an early diagnose; even more in high-risk patients, as smokers.
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), a cancer of the lymphocytes, is the most common type of leukemia in adults. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cells involved in the body’s immune system. CLL is more common in older adults and the average age of people diagnosed with CLL is 71.
In some people with CLL, the disease grows and progresses slowly, meaning it may take years for symptoms to appear or for the need of treatment. In fact, some patients may never need treatment for their CLL. In other patients, the disease grows more quickly and needs treatment sooner. The 5-year survival rate for people with CLL is 82%, but it varies widely according to the stage of the disease.
Although the current standard treatments can be highly effective, it is uncertain whether any treatment can completely get rid of CLL, and most patients are not cured of the disease with treatment. The aim of treatment is to reduce symptoms and produce a long-term remission.
In people with CLL, the abnormal cells crowd other types of cells in the bone marrow. This crowding prevents the production of the healthy blood cells, including:
This means that people with CLL may have anemia from low levels of red blood cells. This may cause more infections because they do not have enough white blood cells, and bruise or bleed easily because of a low level of platelets.
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