Most cells in the human body are regularly renewed. Errors sometimes creep into this process. Normally, the cell corrects these errors or dies.
When repair mechanisms are disrupted, cells are likely to start multiplying uncontrollably. It usually takes a series of genetic changes to turn healthy cells into cancerous cells and takes several years, partly due to the progressive weakening of the body’s defense mechanisms.
Treatment for cancer is aimed at destroying the cancer cells and preventing them from growing.
Some treatments, such as surgery and radiation therapy, provide local control of the disease by acting directly on the tumor or cancerous areas.
Others, called systemic or general oncology treatments in Switzerland, act on the entire body. These include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, molecular targeted therapy and immunotherapy.
Very often, the therapeutic strategy for oncology treatment in Switzerland offered to the patient includes a combination of several treatment methods. The complementary action of different approaches is aimed at achieving maximum effectiveness in each situation.
Very often, cancer patients do not respond equally to standard cancer therapies. This is due to many factors, including genetic and/or epigenetic in each individual patient. Hence, there is a need for personalized treatment that takes into account the individuality of each patient.
Advances in human genome decoding research now provide much more precise knowledge about the genetic profile of patients and malignancies. This information allows a better understanding of the development of different types of cancer and the identification of targeted oncology treatments in Switzerland that take into account the individual characteristics of each individual and his or her disease.
Molecular targeted therapies and immunotherapies are part of these new personalized therapeutic approaches. They are currently offered to patients for the treatment of certain cancers, and research is underway to expand their protocols for other forms of the disease.
In recent decades, significant progress has been made in all forms of oncology treatment in Switzerland. Today, doctors are able to perform surgeries and radiation therapy that are much more precise and sparing for the patient than 30 years ago, which has reduced the side effects of treatment and increased the chances of success.
Targeted therapies have been developed over the past 20 years.
In order to make a diagnosis when cancer is suspected, the physician must carefully examine the patient. For this purpose, Swiss oncologists have various diagnostic methods at their disposal, among them :
If detected at an early stage, the cancer is more likely to be treated. The earlier the disease is detected, the better the chances of cure. Regular checkups can significantly reduce the risk of developing various serious diseases, including cancer.
At our Health and Prevention Center, we offer cancer preventive check-up
Cancers are classified according to different criteria: the site of development (e.g. bowel or breast cancer), the tissue from which the cancer cells originate (e.g. adenocarcinoma developing from glandular tissue), and other characteristics such as genetic characteristics.
Depending on the classification used, between 100 and 200 different cancers are now recognized.
Over the years, genetic and molecular technologies have made it possible to distinguish more precisely between the different types of cancer. Once a patient is diagnosed, therapies specifically tailored to his or her type of cancer are offered, thereby greatly increasing the chances of successful treatment.
The four most common types of cancer (prostate, breast, colon, lung) account for half of all newly diagnosed cancer cases.
In men, prostate cancer accounts for almost a third (29%) of all cancers.
In women, breast cancer also accounts for one-third (33%) of new cases.
Colorectal cancer (11% in men and 10% in women).
Lung cancer (12% in men, 9% in women).
Why are some forms of cancer more common than others? There is no simple answer to this question because the development of cancer depends on many different factors. Generally, cancer develops more often in organs whose cells are exposed to external influences – the air we breathe (lungs) or food (intestines). Organs whose cells are rapidly renewed (e.g., in the mucous membranes in the intestinal mucosa or the upper layers of the skin) are also more vulnerable. Hormonal influences also play an important role, e.g. in breast cancer or prostate cancer.
Approximately 90% of female breast cancer patients have a good chance of being cured, provided the disease is detected at an early stage.
Ultrasound and mammography are used to detect breast cancer early, followed by biopsy if necessary.
After successful treatment, the patient should undergo regular checkups for several years.
A healthy lifestyle, regular physical activity and a sensible diet reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
The treatment protocol for cancer in Switzerland depends on the size, type of cancer and stage of the disease.
In men, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer. In fact, 29% of cancers in men are prostate cancer. If the disease is detected early, there is a 90% chance of cure. Therefore, it is advisable to get screenings to detect prostate cancer as early as possible and treat it effectively.
Two methods of examination are used for early detection of prostate cancer: digital rectal examination and PSA blood test.
Colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer and occurs mostly in people over the age of 50. Treatment consists of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.
Women are almost as likely to get colon cancer as men. From the age of 50, the risk increases significantly. Colon cancer develops almost exclusively from small polyps called intestinal polyps. Preventive screening exams for people at high risk are therefore extremely important. They allow polyps to be removed at an early stage.
Risk factors for colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer develops for a long time without symptoms or pain. The main signs of possible colorectal cancer are
– The desire to go to the bathroom without being able to do so
– Alternating episodes of constipation and diarrhea
– Blood in the stools
– Weight loss and fatigue may also be common symptoms of a colorectal tumor.
Abdominal pain is rarely seen in colorectal cancer.
If these symptoms occur, the patient should see a doctor.
Colon cancer is diagnosed by colonoscopy. In case of suspicious changes, tissue samples may be taken to determine the presence of cancer. Small polyps of the colon can be removed directly during the colonoscopy.
Treatment depends on the stage of the disease. If colon cancer is detected at an early stage, its removal offers a good chance of recovery. The prerequisite is that the tumor has not yet spread into the intestine and there are no metastases.
In advanced cases, surgery is combined with radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and possibly targeted therapy.
Lung cancer (bronchial cancer or lung carcinoma) is the second most common cancer in men and the third most common in women. Of all cancers, lung cancer has the highest number of deaths.
Smoking and secondhand smoke are by far the most important risk factors for lung cancer. Other known risk factors are radon, a radioactive noble gas naturally present in the ground and inhaled by humans, and fine particulate air pollution.
In its early stages, lung cancer is usually asymptomatic. Therefore, many tumors are only discovered during routine examinations or at a late stage.
Persistent symptoms (more than four weeks), such as persistent cough, phlegm, shortness of breath, hoarseness, and chest pain, should be a reason to see your doctor.
If you cough up blood, or if you cough up bloody sputum, you should see a doctor immediately. Severe fatigue, weight loss and loss of energy can also be common symptoms of cancer.
Lung cancer is diagnosed on the basis of X-rays, bronchoscopy and CT scans.
Lung cancer treatment varies depending on the type of cancer and the stage of the disease. If surgical removal of the tumor is possible, this will be done first. The decision to have surgery depends on the location of the tumor and the patient’s general health.
Non-small cell lung cancer can usually be operated on, whereas small cell lung carcinoma is likely to have metastasized by the time it is found. In this case, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are preferred. A combination of different forms of treatment is also often used.
Despite the fact that new medications have made lung cancer treatment possible, if the disease is detected at a late stage, it can often only be treated palliatively.
Cancer treatment in Switzerland at the Health and Prevention Center in Geneva
You may contact us for preventive checkups or for a second opinion when you have symptoms and for treatment.