March 22, 2024

On 26 February, the Main Auditorium of the Portuguese Oncology Institute of Porto (IPO Porto) was the stage for the event “Digestive Cancer – Current and Future Approaches Focused on Prevention”, a joint initiative between IPO Porto, Europacolon Portugal, and Digestive Cancers Europe (DiCE).

The key objective of the event was to increase awareness of the risk factors and prevention of digestive cancer, as well as to discuss the challenges faced in Portugal and Europe.

With around 60,000 cancer cases in Portugal, with approximately one-third of these being digestive cancers and representing 12% of Portuguese mortality, digestive cancers have emerged as a serious public health problem. This scenario has been exacerbated by the increasing incidence in recent years and the presence of five types of cancer with high incidence in the northern region of the country: colon and rectum, stomach, liver, pancreas, and oesophagus.

Dr. Mário Dinis Ribeiro, gastroenterologist and Director of the Department of Medicine at IPO Porto, emphasised the importance of prevention in defending and promoting health. He highlighted that adopting healthy behaviours and participating in screening or early diagnosis measures are crucial in facing this challenge.

The event discussed practical and effective measures to reduce risks and promote digestive health. Renowned experts shared their views and insights on prevention, early diagnosis, and treatments. The initiative was open to the general public and included experts, patients, family members, caregivers, and survivors.

Vitor Neves, President of Europacolon Portugal, emphasised the importance of prevention as a fundamental strategy in facing digestive cancer. He stressed the need to unite efforts to interrupt the devastating impact of these diseases, which resulted in around 30 daily deaths in Portugal.

“This was the first time that, in this renowned institution, IPO do Porto, we brought together so many individuals from civil society, namely patients, survivors, family members, and caregivers. The event was of interest to everyone, healthcare professionals and individuals connected in some way to these diseases,” concludes Vítor Neves.

From Digestive Cancers Europe (DiCE), Ana Martins reinforced the importance of joining efforts in the fight against digestive cancer. She highlighted the need for education and awareness as essential elements to pave the way for a future where prevention is the cornerstone of the approach against cancer.

Data from the National Cancer Registry (RON) for 2020 indicate that digestive cancer represents 25% of the global cancer incidence and 35% of all cancer-related deaths. It is estimated that by 2050, the incidence of digestive cancer in Portugal will increase by 25%.

In summary, the event “Digestive Cancer – Current and Future Approaches Focused on Prevention” was a crucial opportunity to bring together experts and the community at large to address the challenges of digestive cancer, highlighting the importance of prevention and early diagnosis as fundamental pillars in the fight against these devastating diseases.

Ana Martins

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