There are national screening programs only for colorectal cancer. For other gastrointestinal diseases, however, there are no secondary prevention tests on a target population. And it shows why the diagnoses are often late and there is less chance of a cure. Precisely for this reason, the Italian Association of Medical Oncology (Aiom) has decided to launch a new national campaign for patients and caregivers that was presented during the second day of the AIOM national congress which is taking place in these days in Rome.
The ‘family’ of gastrointestinal cancers
The main tumors of the gastrointestinal tract affect 78 thousand men and women in our country every year. Specifically, there are 43,700 cases of colorectal cancer; 14,500 in the stomach; 14,300 to the pancreas and 5,400 cholangiocarcinomas. These are all diseases that are still too often diagnosed too late. This forces medical specialists to have to treat advanced cancers, because few effective therapies are available and respectful of the patients’ quality of life. For colorectal cancer alone, more than 8,700 cases per year are detected when they have already developed metastases. As for stomach cancer, only 7% of neoplasms are diagnosed in the early stages. “They are a heterogeneous group of diseases that have very different survival rates. For the colorectal five years after diagnosis, 65% of patients are alive, while for the stomach the figure drops to 30%. For cholangiocarcinoma it is 15% and for the pancreas it is just over 10% ”, explains Saverio Cinieri, Aiom national president.
The impact of lifestyles
Tumors of the gastrointestinal tract are affected by incorrect lifestyles starting with nutrition. “More than 30% of all solid carcinomas are attributable to the diet – remembers Filippo Pietrantonio, member of the Aiom Board of Directors. It also heavily affects digestive tract neoplasms along with other risk factors such as obesity or excess weight, poor physical activity, cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse. Some chronic diseases, infections or specific genetic mutations can also play a harmful role ”.
Focus on screening
What makes early diagnosis difficult is the lack of specific prevention programs. “Only for colorectal cancer there are national screening programs for all men and women over 50”, underlines Giordano Beretta, president of the Aiom Foundation. For the other pathologies, on the other hand, there are no secondary prevention tests on a target population. Indeed, they are silent oncological diseases that tend to appear with obvious symptoms when it is too late. Over the last few years, scientific research has developed innovative chemotherapy treatments that are progressively improving treatment opportunities and increasing life expectancy “.
The social campaign
To improve the situation of patients, the Italian Association of Medical Oncology (Aiom) has decided to launch a new national campaign (entitled Quality of life in the Patient with Advanced Neoplasia in Gastro-Intestinal Cancer) which will take place on the official accounts of the Scientific Society. starting in the next few weeks. Four webinars will then be organized close to the world days dedicated to cancer (November / pancreas and stomach; February / cholangiocarcinoma and March / colorectal). “We want to send a message of hope to patients affected by the most severe forms of gastro-intestinal cancer – says Saverio Cinieri, Aiom National President.
The multidisciplinary approach
Through social media and the web, oncologists will illustrate the main diagnostic-therapeutic innovations to patients. “We will also reiterate the importance of managing the four advanced-stage neoplasms only in reference centers and that they guarantee a real multidisciplinary approach”, explains Nicola Silvestris, member of the Aiom Board of Directors. There are several professional figures involved: oncologist, surgeon, pathologist, radiotherapist, nutritionist and psychologist. Healthcare facilities must have the right skills and technologies especially for the administration of surgical treatments. These are difficult operations and can have many complications. Emblematic in this sense is pancreatic cancer which can be cured with a scalpel in 20% of cases “. The campaign is made possible by an educational grant from the Servier Group in Italy: “Every day counts: this is how our challenge in oncology and our commitment to patients can be summarized, for whom we provide effective and safe therapies even in the most advanced stages of the disease. We are therefore proud to support AIOM in this new information campaign ”, concludes Gilles Renacco, General Manager of the Servier Group in Italy.