The ischaemic stroke and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment

A stroke, which is also known as cerebral vascular disease, is a disorder that can affect, either temporarily or permanently, the functioning of our brain and can be caused by a variety of circulatory disorders.

As far as the numbers are concerned, ischaemic strokes account for 80% of diagnoses, with an estimated incidence of between 150 and 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year.

Perhaps what differentiates this pathology from many others is the importance of acting urgently from the first moment in which we detect any minor symptom. We must bear in mind that ischaemia (cell stress caused by the lack of blood in the brain) can take a few hours to develop, so medical teams can have what we call "a therapeutic window", which means they can deal with the treatment of strokes with greater guarantees. Why do ischaemic strokes occur? In the majority of the cases, they occur because the blood flow fails to reach a part of our brain as a result of Read more

Genetic Predisposition to Breast Cancer: when public awareness demands clarity

By Dr. Luis Costa, Director of Oncology at Santa Maria Hospital, Lisbon.

 Ever since last May, a great deal of attention has been focused on news that the actress Angelina Jolie underwent a preventive bilateral mastectomy after learning that she was a carrier of a pathogenic gene mutation (1) known to be responsible for a higher incidence of breast and/or ovarian cancer.

Among the many media messages emerging from Jolie’s revelation was that carriers of such a mutation should consider preventive surgery and that non-carriers could rest easy that they were in a lower risk category. While these messages have opened up useful opportunities for dialogue between a woman and her doctor, the truth behind genetic testing is much more complex. 

Women who have a heritable BRAC1 or BRAC2 gene mutation such as Jolie’s bear the same characteristic or genetic defect that gives them a higher genetic susceptibility to cancer. Research into these mutations has been of incredible valuable in identifying women who may benefit from certain preventive measures. Indeed, once found to be carriers, patients’ relatives can be also screened and can then make informed decisions as to precautionary strategies going forward. Yet not only does a genetic predisposition for breast cancer represent only an average of 5% of all cases but the cumulative lifetime risk of cancer varies between 15% and Read more

Healthy eating and changes in our lifestyle in the battle against cancer

When we think of doing battle against the terrible cancer cells the first things that spring to mind are radiation therapy and chemotherapy or surgery. However, the case of Dr. Odile Fernandez undoubtedly will make us reflect and evaluate other options that could become a complement to the usual treatments.

Odile Fernández is a Spanish doctor who was diagnosed in 2010 with ovarian cancer with multiple metastases, whose five year survival rate was only 5%. After a number of years, not only has she overcome cancer, but she has become a mother for the second time too.

How did she manage to overcome such a situation? Part of Odile's story is included in her book "My Anti-Cancer Recipes", which was published a few months ago and which is now in its 5th edition. The title of the book is based on Odile's own experience, but it is not based on a treatment that is "magic". The idea which the author/patient wants to convey in her work is that we can do a lot in our fight against cancer by changing our diets and improving some of our living habits.  One has to be courageous to deal with certain changes Read more