This Article is About
cancer prevention
female smokers
average lifespan
cigarette smoking
preventive measures
proper nutrition
risk factors
Cancer Prevention
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Prevention is the best weapon to beat cancer.

And it is within our reach, every day starting from the table, following the rules of proper nutrition, to finish the regular medical checks.

They began to give importance to the concept of cancer prevention especially since in recent decades, the incidence of this disease has increased. The reasons for growth are linked to the average lifespan and a significant change in lifestyle. The increasing incidence of lung cancer in women, for example, is a direct consequence of increasing numbers of female smokers.

Taking note of this situation has gone from only curative approach to a preventive to the disease, dating back to 1981 publication, by two leading epidemiologists (Richard Doll and Richard), the first scientifically controlled list of the main risk factors that determine the onset of cancer.

Among the factors identified in this study are cigarette smoking, diet and other causes such as viruses, hormones and radiation.

Today the approach is has many sides, that is a real risk for an individual to contract the disease is a combination of several risk factors.

Moreover, it is understood that the preventive measures are not limited to the stages that precede the onset of the disease (primary prevention), but can also be applied when the disease is already present (secondary and tertiary prevention).

Primary prevention

The purpose of primary prevention is to reduce the incidence of cancer by controlling risk factors and increasing individual resistance to such factors. In other words, to avoid the onset of cancer.

Proper primary prevention is not only based on the identification of risk factors, but especially on an assessment of the entire population or the individual is exposed to these factors.

The primary prevention strategies may be directed to the entire population (for example those concerning the proper way of eating or physical activity) or to particular categories of people considered 'high risk' (for example, who has a particularly high genetic risk or smoking).

Fall in the primary prevention tools including vaccines against specific infectious agents that increase the risk of cancer, such as the hepatitis B virus (liver cancer) or the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV responsible for cervical cancer).

Secondary Cancer Prevention

The aim of secondary cancer prevention is to identify the tumor in a very early stage so that you can treat it effectively and get results in a greater number of cures and a reduction in mortality. Secondary prevention measures coincides with the early diagnosis. Generally covers the period between the onset of the disease and the biological manifestation of first symptoms.

For some types of cancer there are also national programs for secondary prevention as in the case of mammography: screening the National Observatory, under the Ministry, recommends a mammogram every two years for women aged 50 and over, but the timing may considerations vary depending on the doctor's personal story of each woman.

As for the Pap test, the Ministry of Health states that women from the start of active sexual life and in any case not more than 25 years should take the exam every two to three years until about 70 years of age, and offers the possibility to do it for free at the clinics. The autonomous regions are still deciding whether and how to propose such screening: in some cases, for example, the Pap test is free even at a young age, because the signs are international start it since the age of the first sexual intercourse. Many regions have also launched campaigns of screening for colorectal cancer, aimed at people aged 50 to 70 years.

In 1968 the World Health Organization (WHO) has established the universal criteria by which a disease that affects a large proportion of the population is likely to be preventive screening:

The disease must be a real health problem;

There must be a treatment to cure the disease diagnosed;

There must be recognized, or a latent stage should be the first recognizable symptoms of the disease;

screening must be universally accepted by the population.

With this type of screening, however, is more easily identify tumors with a preclinical phase (the period between the biological onset of the disease and the first symptom) longer than the fast-growing, especially when the average time between a examination and the other is moderately long. This means that cases of cancer identified by screening are also those who, by their very nature, have a more favorable prognosis.

Finally, it should be noted that some cancers identified by screening for secondary prevention did not give rise to a real disease, because in some cases the progression is very slow or even stop. It is not easy, however, find out what happens in such cases and therefore what kind of cancer it is useful to screen and for which, however, is best avoided. In fact, identify a tumor means proceed with sometimes invasive tests or even surgery and therapy, which in turn have side effects. It is the delicate balance between benefits for the community and the individual, and damage from excessive treatment that moves the world of prevention.

For this reason, in some cases do not proceed through active intervention, but merely to make diagnostic tests more frequently to monitor the evolution of the disease: it is what happens, for example, in elderly patients with tumors characterized by a very long preclinical phase, such as cancer of the prostate.


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