Every year, some 160,000 Spaniards and 14,000 Catalans are diagnosed with cancer. In the country, as a whole, approximately 90,000 people die from the disease. These figures represent nearly 30% of all causes of death and cancer is the second cause of death after cardiovascular diseases.
It is also the leading cause of death among people in the age of greatest personal and occupational productivity – between 35 and 70 years of age. And the numbers are on the rise. In the future, one out of every three Spaniards will develop cancer. Of these, one-quarter will die. Taking the example of breast cancer, there will be a 40% increase in the number of cases between now and 2015.
Furthermore, figures for cancer survival at one year and five years in Spain are similar to those in the United States and Europe. Hence, the numbers are rising but the treatments are improving.
Today, we know much more about why a cell becomes cancerous and about which proteins and genes are responsible for this happening. This knowledge is helping us to develop treatments aimed at the molecular mechanisms that govern each tumor.
- Genomics provides an advance that makes it possible to analyze the genetic profile of tumors and, therefore, classify and analyze them.
- Cellular biology allows a better definition of the differential characteristics of the tumorous cells and tissue and identification of the molecular bases of cell behavior.
- Finally, state-of-the-art technologies have caused a genuine revolution in speeding up diagnosis and accelerating treatment.
These, then, are the principal foundations of “à la carte medicine” or personalized medicine.