May 31 is celebrated on World No Tobacco Day, a day in which it is necessary to remember the tumor that causes the highest number of deaths in Spain: lung cancer. This is one of the most harmful because it has high figures both in frequency of occurrence in the population and in mortality. And on many occasions it could be avoided by just leaving the tobacco aside.
For example, a button: according to the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), the increase in tobacco consumption among women, started decades ago, is closely linked to the increase in lung cancer deaths among them. Between 2003 and 2012 it has gone from 7.6 to 11.6 deaths per 100,000 women. The SEOM also estimates that between 80% and 90% of lung cancers develop in smokers or in people who have stopped smoking recently.
The World Health Organization (WHO) agrees and assures, in addition, that about a third of deaths from cancer are due to avoidable causes, among which is included smoking. That is, the facts show that one of the best ways to prevent the onset of the disease is to stop smoking.
While there are hereditary factors that would determine the genome and lead to the development of cancer, most cancers respond to a genetic factor, but not a hereditary one: only between 5% and 10% of tumors have a hereditary origin. So, what is in our power to do to prevent, as far as possible, this pathology?
- Give up smoking: significantly reduces the risk of developing this pathology. The person should do a tobacco cessation treatment, on the one hand, and take medical control and drug treatment against nicotine addiction through patches and some drugs such as varenicline and bupropion.
- Avoid radon: a radioactive gas that is found in rocks and soil. It is invisible and odorless, you can only determine its presence by measuring its levels. Exposure to radon combined with smoking increases the risk of lung cancer even more significantly.
- Living in areas without pollution: It is preferable to live in areas that contain abundant green areas because they offer a cleaner and oxygenated air.
- Avoid carcinogens Asbestos and other substances present in industry or mining related to lung tumor. This group also includes arsenic, uranium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates and some petroleum and coal products.
- Pay attention to other minerals: People with silicosis and berylliosis, who suffer from lung diseases caused by the inhalation of certain minerals, have a higher risk of lung cancer. Individual protection measures are needed, such as masks, and collective, such as filters and air purifiers in the work areas, which remove harmful particles from the environment.
- Eat a healthy diet: it is advisable to eat antioxidant and anticancer vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms and mushrooms, red fruits, citrus fruits, pomegranate, apples, purple grapes and custard apple. Also spinach, which are rich in mineral salts and trace elements, contain vitamins A and C and are a good source of iron.
- Perform physical exercise: it must be constant and regular, preferably in walks through green areas due to the greater amount of oxygen.
- Pay attention to recurrent inflammation: Tuberculosis and some types of pneumonia often leave scars on the lung. These increase the risk that the person develops a specific type of lung cancer; the adenocarcinoma.
- Use talcum powder as little as possible: Studies carried out on miners and millers of talc suggest that they have a higher risk of developing the pathology due to exposure to talc of industrial quality. In addition, in its natural form this powder can contain asbestos.
On the other hand, lung cancer patients can take advantage of the benefits of genomics and precision medicine to find an optimal treatment customized for each case. To date, there are more than 10 genetic mutations associated with lung cancer that regulate determining processes such as the proliferation and survival of tumor cells, which are decisive in the development of the pathology.
There are mutations in genes such as EGFR, ALK or ROS1 that predict the sensitivity and efficacy of new targeted treatments that directly attack tumor cells, producing fewer side effects in the patient, therefore, improving their quality of life and saving costs to the patient. system in general.
Adriana Terrádez is the director of OncoDNA for Spain and Portugal (formerly BioSequence), she is a born entrepreneur and the pioneer in Spain of the introduction of advanced genomic diagnostic tools for the personalized treatment of cancer patients.