In 2012, more than 14 million new cancer cases were diagnosed, a figure that is expected to grow by 75 percent over the next 20 years. More and more patients are surviving their cancer, which increasingly makes cancer a chronic disease with growing number of patients all over the world in need of long-term care. At the same time, the costs of cancer care and demands on cost efficiency in healthcare systems are rising.
Cancer is a group of more than 200 different diseases that can affect any part of the body. The risk of developing cancer is influenced by several factors, including smoking, alcohol, physical activity, dietary habits, ultraviolet radiation exposure, radioactivity and viral infections, but also by hereditary or other unknown factors. The risk increases with age and about 60 percent of all new cancer cases worldwide are recorded in the over-60 age group. Geographic differences in the spread of cancer can largely be linked to the varying prevalence of the various risk factors. Survival rates are increasing in many countries due to earlier detection and more effective treatment. In the industrialized world, breast cancer and prostate cancer are the cancer types with the highest proportion of patients who survive more than five years. Survival rates are lowest in low-income countries, where access to programs for early detection and diagnostics, or optimal treatment and care, often is poor.
The most common forms of treatment are radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy. These are used individually, or in combination, in virtually all cancer treatment. The treatment methods are complementary and are targeting different types of cancer. Radiation therapy is one of the most cost-effective treatment options and the use of radiation therapy is expected to increase. Studies shows that radiation therapy optimally should be used to treat about 50 percent of all cancer cases.
Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world and the leading cause of cancer death among men, and second-largest cause among women. In 2012, the most recent year from which global statistics are available, 1.8 million people were diagnosed with lung cancer and 1.6 million died from lung cancer. To manage and adjust for tumor movements is a challenge when using radiation therapy for treatment in lungs. Movements complicate imaging and treatment planning and usually require substantial margins to compensate for lung-tumor movement.
The solution is to deliver powerful doses with high precision using a short beam-on time, enabling a more direct delivery to the tumor while protecting healthy tissue. Elekta’s unique linear accelerator, Versa HD™, uses the Agility™ multileaf collimator to combine powerful radiation doses with exact beam delivery. The short treatment session helps the patient lie still while being treated, which reduces the risk of damage to healthy tissue.
Gynecological cancer is a group of cancers that affect the female reproductive organs and genital. The most common form is cervical cancer with some 530,000 new cases in 2012, of which less developed countries accounted for about 85 percent. About 265,000 women died from cervical cancer in 2012. Virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV infections. The second most common type of gynecological cancer is uterine cancer.
Both cervical cancer and uterine cancer are treated with surgery, radiation and cytostatic drugs, usually in combination. Brachytherapy is an established treatment option that has shown positive results when combined with external radiation therapy. Over time, many studies have shown that a combination of brachytherapy and external radiation therapy is effective when treating cervical cancer.
Skin cancer can take several forms, of which the most dangerous is malignant melanoma. Another type is squamous cell carcinoma. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the most significant risk factor for both of these cancers. A less serious type of skin tumor is basal cell carcinoma, which tends to grow slowly and metastasis is rare. Basal cell carcinoma is not included in normal cancer statistics.
The number of skin cancer cases has risen sharply in recent decades. If all types were included, skin cancer would account for about one-third of all new cancer cases. The traditional form of treatment for skin cancer has been surgery. Elekta’s solution, Esteya, makes it possible to treat some types of skin cancer non-invasively yet with high precision using electronic brachytherapy.
Brain tumors are usually divided into two categories: primary brain tumors, in which the tumor starts from brain cells, and secondary brain tumors, or brain metastases, in which tumor cells have spread to the brain from primary tumors in other parts of the body. Primary brain tumors include many different kinds of tumors, while brain metastases usually originate from cancers of the lung, skin, breast, kidney and colon.
The most common form of treatment is whole brain radiation therapy. However, an increasing number of scientific studies show that stereotactic radiosurgery achieves a better results, alone or in combination with other treatment options, and with less risk of side-effects.
Due to its high precision and automation, the Leksell Gamma KnifeR Icon™ is particularly suitable for the treatment of brain metastases, as well as for patients with multiple metastases.
Metastases, daughter tumors, occur when cancer cells spread from the site of the original tumor, the primary tumor, to another organ in the body. Virtually all types of cancer can cause metastases. However, it is impossible to safely predict if a tumor will form metastases or not. Metastases usually occur in the brain and spine, lungs, skeleton, liver or lymph nodes. Since more patients are living longer after their original cancer treatment, the number of metastasis cases is expected to rise.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, and the second most common cancer worldwide. In 2012, there were 1.7 million new cases and 520,000 people died from the disease. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women in less developed countries, and the second highest cause, after lung cancer, in developed countries.
The primary treatment options are surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, often in combination. Surgery followed by radiation therapy is commonly used. Hormone therapy is used for hormone receptor-positive tumors.
Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men, with more than 1.1 million new cases in 2012. More than two-thirds of all cases occur in developed countries. This is probably linked to the widespread use of PSA screening, which enables early detection.
In most cases, prostate cancer develops slowly and most men who receive this diagnosis are over 65. By the age of 80, more than 50 percent of men have cancer cells in their prostate. The slow growth combined with effective methods of treatment and early detection means that mortality rates are considerably lower compared with other common cancer types. Common therapies are radiation therapy, surgery and hormone therapy, or a combination of these.
In 2012, 1.4 million new cases of colorectal cancer (colon cancer) were reported and 700,000 people died from the disease.
Surgery is the most common method of treatment for colon cancer. Survival rates after surgery are often dependent on whether the cancer has spread to other organs. The trend of falling mortality rates is a result of improved treatment methods and earlier detection. Radiation therapy is also a common treatment, and some patients may also require chemotherapy.