The cancer resumes its run. During this year, in fact, the new diagnoses of cancer in Italy have increased and have reached the threshold of 390,700, i.e 14,100 more cases compared to 2020 (376,600). And if on the one hand this increase is justified by the increase in the average age of the population and by the drop in diagnoses due to the coronaviruson the other hand today, although screening programs are recovering, more efforts are urgently needed in the sensitize citizens against lifestyles incorrectthe. Just think that 33% of people are overweight and 10% obese, 24% smoke and sedentary people have increased from 23% in 2008 to 31% in 2021. These are some of the most important data that emerged from the annual report “The numbers of cancer in Italy”just presented at Ministry of Health and the result of the collaboration between the Italian Association of Medical Oncology (Aiom), the Italian cancer registries (Airtum), the Italian Society of Pathological Anatomy and Diagnostic Cytology (Siapec-Iap), the Aiom Foundation, Passi (Progressi delle Azienda Sanitarie for Health in Italy), Passi d’Argento and the National Screening Observatory (Ons).
The most common tumours
In particular, the report tells us that this year i tumors most common are: alla breast (55,700 cases, 0.5% more than in 2020), al colorectal (48,100, 1.5% more in men and 1.6% more in women), to lung (43,900, 1.6% more in men and 3.6% more in women), at prostate (40,500, 1.5% more) and to bladder (29,200, 1.7% more in men and 1.0% more in women). “As the analysis shows, following decades of remarkable progress, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a setback in the fight against cancer”explains the Minister of Health, Horace Schillaci. “These delays will certainly affect the future incidence of neoplastic diseases. Also, with regards to i behavioral risk factors, the data collected during the two-year period 2020-2021 mark a moment of acceleration mostly in a pejorative sense. This is a fact that cannot fail to give cause for concern if we consider that 40% of cases and the 50% of deaths cancers can be avoided by intervening on preventable risk factors, especially on lifestyles”.
Prevention and risk factors
In fact, the data clearly shows how it is necessary to invest in measures to combat diagnostic delays and at the same time encourage the prevention secondary, but above all primary, making people aware of risk factorssuch as smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse. “From the analysis of the historical series of behavioral risk factors, it emerges that there have been no major improvements in the last 15 years and, with the exception of smoke of cigarette which has continued its slow reduction for over thirty years, the consumption of alcohol at risk, a sedentary lifestyle and excess weight, on the whole, worsen or remain stable”he comments Maria Masocco, Scientific manager of the Passi and Passi d’Argento surveillance systems of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità. And during the pandemic, these trends have worsened further. “The impact of the pandemic on lifestyles is more visible in 2020 and seems, in part, to return in 2021”adds the expert. “But efforts to raise public awareness of the importance of primary prevention they mustn’t stop.”
A good news
As the report shows, the number of people living with a diagnosis of illness. From the 2.5 million people who lived in 2006 with a previous diagnosis of cancer, we have passed to about 3.6 million in 2020, 37% more than observed just 10 years earlier. And the increase was most marked for those who lived more than 10 or 15 years after diagnosis. In 2020, around 2.4 million people, 65% of the total, received the diagnosis for more than 5 years, while 1.4 million, 39% of the total, for more than ten years. More than a quarter (27%) are healed people among those living after a cancer diagnosis. Furthermore, the resumption of screening programs was observed and in particular the mammography one reached 46% coverage, for the colorectal one 30% and for the uterine cervix 35%. This corresponds to an increase in the number of surgeries for colorectal and breast cancer, even at an early stage.
Finally, the report underlines the importance of vaccines against Covid-19: in fact, the risk of death among people with a history of cancer and positivity to the coronavirus infection is 2-3 times higher among those not vaccinated compared to the vaccinated. “In Italy, the pandemic has caused an increase in the mortality of cancer patients, especially in males, in old age, with cancer diagnosed less than 2 years ago and in hematological malignancies”they explain Fabrizio Straccipresident Airtum e Diego Serrainodirector, Oncological Epidemiology Society and Cancer Registry of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Oncological Reference Center, Aviano. “It is essential that fragile patients, including cancer patients, get vaccinated”.
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