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“I keep dreaming of a future, with a long and healthy life, not lived in the shadow of cancer but in the light.”

Patrick Swayze

Cancer is one of the most important diseases of our time, with different impacts on various systems and organs of the body. Cancer is so damaging that it became necessary to develop a medical specialty (Oncology) dedicated to studying, detecting, diagnosing, and treating cancer.

Cancer is the common name that receives not one but a set of diseases that start with neoplasia, a mass of tissue that grows abnormally. The cells that constitute neoplasia multiply at a much higher rate than usual. These growths can be classified as benign when they only affect locally or be malignant when they spread to other systems, organs, tissues and behave aggressively, attacking the human body. These neoplasms are known as cancer.

The TNM system developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer or the AJCC is frequently used to classify cancer, answering some questions with corresponding diagnostic studies (imaging, biopsies, clinical studies, etc.) and thereby knowing the level of dissemination in the body. Oncologists use these references to determine the status of cancer in total, considering the following scale:

  • 0. Cancer in situ, without spread to surrounding tissue. Highly curable and with a good prognosis.
  • I. Cancer in an early stage, without profound growth in surrounding tissues. Good prognosis with treatment.
  • II. and III. Cancer that grows deep into surrounding tissues or has possibly spread to lymph nodes, but not elsewhere in the body. Reserved prognosis. 
  • IV. This type of cancer spreads to other organs or parts of the body (i.e., metastatic). Uncertain prognosis, high probability of complications including death.

Oncology studies and treats these aggressive neoplasms classified as cancer with treatments such as drugs, chemotherapies, radiotherapies and even go as far as the removal of both the tumor and invaded organs or tissues.

In addition to this, an Oncologist is also responsible for palliative care for patients with advanced cancer to keep them stable and with as little pain as possible when the disease is no longer curable.

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