Back Medical Oncology department


For improved patient care, the Medical Oncology Department at the Clínica Universidad de Navarra organises itself into a number of care units.

Each of these units has specialists dedicated to the diagnostic study and treatment of this specific type of tumour. This means we offer each patient leading quality care.

We have nurses for each unit who are specifically dedicated to the follow-up and care of Oncological patients. Therefore, the patients receive continuous care, both in the Clínica itself, and at home. 


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Melanoma is one of the most common and most malignant tumours.

Melanoma originates on the cutaneous skin surface, more precisely, in melanocytes, the cells which give skin its dark colour; they can appear as a new mark or develop on a previous mole.

They are one of the most malignant tumours and appear more and more frequently, possibly due to our sun exposure habits nowadays. The best prevention for melanoma is to diagnose it early on.

In the early stages, when it is growing on the skin´s surface and doesn´t penetrate the skin, the melanoma has a good prognosis and is cured with a simply surgical procedure. When it grows deeper, the prognosis gets worse and the possibility of it spreading to other areas in the body, through the blood stream, increases. 

Medical experience is crucial when treating bone and soft structure tumours.

Bone tumours are less common but mainly appear in children and adolescents and make up 5% of paediatric tumours. The most common are osteogenic sarcomas (osteosarcoma) and Ewing´s sarcoma.

The possibility of curing the condition decreases drastically when the treatment is not carried out in an experienced centre.

Soft structure tumours are quite rare and this is why there are very few experienced centres. A delay in diagnosis, a relapse or metastasis can worsen the prognosis of this disease which, when treated in a specialised centre, can be easily cured.  

Brain tumours are caused by the uncontrolled growth of certain cells.

Brain tumours can be ´primary´, originating in the brain´s own cells, or ´secondary´ from a tumour in another area of the body (metastasis).

The most common primary brain tumours are gliomas. The main risk is their reappearance after surgical removal of the tumour.

The Clínica Universidad de Navarra has a multidisciplinary Brain Tumours Area. It works alongside Neurology, Neurosurgery, Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Pathological Anatomy and Radiology specialists. 

Gastrointestinal tumours are found in the gastrointestinal tract and related organs.

Colorectal cancer has a high survival rate (90%) if it is detected early on and premalignant polyps are removed with colonoscopy. Therefore, an early diagnosis is of vital importance.

10% of malignant tumours diagnosed each year worldwide are related to Gastric cancer. The risk of developing this condition increases after a patient is 50 years old and is at its maximum in their 70s.

The main symptom of oesophageal cancer is difficulty in swallowing or the sensation of food being stuck in in your throat, also known as dysphagia. This difficulty is caused by the obstruction of the oesophagus with a tumour.

The most common hepatic tumour is hepatocarcinoma. Between 60 and 90% of hepatocarcinomas are associated with cirrhosis of the liver. Furthermore, the liver, and the lungs, are the most commonly affected organs by metastasis from tumours which originated in other areas of the body.

Pancreatic tumours , although they are not very frequent, have a high mortality rate, and as a result, it is important to detect them early on and start treatment as quickly as possible. 

Genitourinary tumours are found in renal, urinary, prostate and testicular cancers.

Kidney cancer is the third most common type of Urological tumour and is the cause of approximately 3% of all tumours.

Bladder cancer constitutes 9% of all cancers in men and 4% of female tumours. It´s four times more likely in a man than a woman, and mainly affects patients over 50 years old.

The probability of having prostate cancer increases with age and 90% of cases are diagnosed in men over 65. The risk increases in people with first degree relatives who have been affected by this condition, and can be 7 times more likely in people with two or three immediate family members with the disease.

The causes of testicular cancer are unknown; there is no way of preventing it, because there are no known risk factors that can be avoided. 

Gynaecological tumours are found in uterine, endometrial, ovarian and cervix cancer.

Uterine or endometrial cancers usually produce symptoms in their initial stages which makes early diagnosis easier. The majority of tumours diagnosed are still in phase I or II, which means that the survival rate after 5 years, in the majority of patients, is around 85-90%.

The chance of survival when ovarian cancer is diagnosed closely relates to whether or not it has spread beyond the ovaries. Only about 20% of cases have not spread when diagnosed.

Cervical cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in female genitalia. The virus human papilloma (PHV), a sexually transmitted infection, plays an important role in the cause of the majority of cases. 

Breast cancer treatment incorporates surgery, systematic therapy and radiotherapy.

The Clínica has a multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Unit for a quick diagnosis, to offer patients the most suitable treatment for each individual case.

The treatments carried out in the Medical Oncology Department for patients with breast cancer are: chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, biological therapies

Hormone therapy is used as a preventative treatment in patients who have not developed breast cancer but have been diagnosed with premalignant mammary lesions.

It is encouraging that we continue to investigate new agents for blocking specific tumorous targets (some previously known and others new) in breast cancer, in order to increase efficiency and reduce toxicity of treatments. 

Head and neck tumours represent 5% of all tumours.

Head and neck tumours are known as a group of malignant tumours located in the paranasal sinuses, nasopharynx, oropharynx (tonsils, soft palate, base of the tongue), hypopharynx, larynx, oral cavity (oral mucus, gum, hard palate, tongue and floor of the mouth), tongue and salivary glands.

The three main types of treatment for managing head and neck cancers are radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy.

There are no fully effective programmes for the early detection of head and neck cancers. It`s recommended that people with known risk factors such as heavy drinkers and smokers, have regular check-ups for the detection of these conditions. 

Discoveries in molecular biology for lung cancer have increased the survival rate.

There is not just one type of chemotherapy, but currently, other than conventional chemotherapy agents (cytotoxic drugs), we have biological agents that act on the specific molecular targets of the tumour.

In the past decade, several discoveries have been made in molecular biology for lung cancer, allowing for the development of new drugs which are not only more effective for certain groups of patients, but have also changed the natural history of this cancer and significantly improved results in response to treatment and increased the survival rate worldwide. 

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