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EMU Dr. Fazıl Küçük Medicine Faculty Releases a Statement on the Occasion of Cancer Awareness Week

Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Dr. Fazıl Küçük Medicine Faculty Dean Prof. Dr. Nahide Gökçora wrote an article for 1-7 April Cancer Awareness Week. Prof. Dr. Gökçora made the following statements in hER article:

“National Cancer Week is observed every year between 1 and 7 April in order to increase the awareness and consciousness level of the public towards cancer, to eliminate false facts in the fight against cancer and to increase the sensitivity against this disease.

Cancer occurs when a group of cells in the body undergo change and begin to reproduce in an uncontrolled manner. It can affect any organ or tissue of the body. More than 10 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year worldwide. Cancer is also an important public health problem in our country. To reveal this important public health problem with scientific data is the most important step to be taken in the fight. In order to investigate the prevalence of cancer, newly diagnosed cases, risk factors and to make public health plans possible, TRNC Ministry of Health and EMU Dr. Fazıl Küçük Medicine Faculty signed a protocol activating the "Cancer Registry and Cancer Screening Project in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus". Within the scope of this project, North Cyprus Cancer Monitoring and Evaluation and Training Center (KK-KIDEM) was established as a community-based cancer registry center in Northern Cyprus in 2016 in order to collect data on cancer. According to the shared results, 3,663 new cancer diagnoses have been made in the last 5 years in the TRNC. Of these, 1,854 are men and 1,809 are women. The top five most common cancers in men were prostate, lung, bladder, colorectal cancers and lymphoma, and the top five most common cancers in women were breast, thyroid, colorectal cancers, uterine cancers and lymphoma.

Current data shows that 30-50% of cancers can be prevented today and about 90% of the cases that have been diagnosed early and started to be treated can be cured. The general approach in cancer treatment is to control the disease with chemotherapy and similar systemic treatment practices added to local treatments such as surgery and radiotherapy and, if possible, to achieve full recovery. As a result of extensive research on tumor samples, it has been understood that many cancers that seem to be the same are actually not alike and have different genetic characteristics. In addition, patients may give different responses to the same treatment as a result of genetic diversity in humans. For this reason, it has been suggested that applying the same treatment to every patient with the same type of cancer is a wrong approach, and the theranostic medicine approach, which is seen as the future of personalized cancer treatment, has gained considerable importance in recent years.

Theranostic medicine approach is a concept that is based on personalized treatment and provides a transition from traditional medicine to contemporary medicine. The word theranostic is derived from the words "therapy (thera-)" and "diagnosis (- nostic)", which mean treatment and diagnosis in English, and associates the drug planned to be used in the treatment of the disease and the method of diagnosis. The purpose of personalized treatment is to develop targeted therapies and to apply the ideal treatment with the highest efficiency and the minimum side effects to the patients. In addition, it is possible to diagnose and detect mutations known to cause cancer, as well as treatment with personalized medicine.

Thanks to the smart molecules targeting cancerous tissues with the theranostic nuclear medicine approach, it is possible to transport radioactive substances to cancerous cells for the purpose of diagnostic imaging and treatment using the same smart molecules. In this way, by protecting healthy tissues, treatment can be performed by delivering very intense amount of radiation at the molecular level to cancerous tissues. The origins of the theranostic studies are based on the studies of Glenn Seaborg and John Livinghood, who discovered radioactive iodine (Iodine-131), the  efficacy and safety of which was proven in the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid cancer in 1938. Today, among the theranostic approaches in the Department of Nuclear Medicine are Gallium-68 / Lutetium-177 DOTA peptide in the diagnosis and treatment of neuroendocrine tumors, Ga-68 / Lutetium-177 PSMA in prostate cancers, radioembolization (radiomicrosphere) treatment in liver cancers, Radium-223 treatment in prostate cancers and radionuclide therapy of metastatic bone pain due to cancer. "