In 2016 an estimated 38,500 people in Catalonia were diagnosed with cancer, and 10,425 of them did not survive. Cancer is the leading cause of death among men and the second among women, and it incidence remains very high: it is calculated that at some time in their lives one in two men and one of every three women will have it.

Figures from the Catalan health ministry show that the number of cases of this disease will grow until 2025, due especially to the progressive ageing of the population. From that time on, the incidence is expected to stabilise and start to fall thanks to health education campaigns. Expert opinion is that 40% of cancers could be prevented by healthy life habits, like taking exercise, following a balanced diet, controlling weight, limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking, among others. The health experts also stress the importance of following the early detection programmes for breast, cervix and colon tumours, as well as the vaccination plans, which can prevent viruses such as human papilloma that are related to the development of cancer.

In the last 10 years these factors have led to a 7% increase in patient survival in Catalonia, which is currently around 55%, a figure that is higher than the European average and that continues to grow.

But despite these positive figures 60% of tumours cannot be prevented. In these cases the goal is to make a diagnosis as early as possible, to treat them better, and to achieve a higher percentage of cures and chronification. To do that, research faces many challenges in the immediate future. One of them is to increase the study of liquid biopsy, a blood test that experts think could detect tumours in their early stages. Another goal is to boost research into immunotherapy, a treatment that makes it possible to stimulate the body's immune system to fight against the carcinogenic cells. There is also a need for progress in the current multidisciplinary treatments with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery for them to become more effective and personalised.

These challenges for research and public awareness will be the destination of the funds collected in the 2018 edition of La Marató de TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio. The theme of this edition has been approved by the Board of the Foundation at the proposal of the Scientific Advisory Committee from the applications received in its latest call for proposals for diseases in 2017. Every two years, the Foundation issues a call to the associations of doctors, patients and families of patients for them to propose diseases to be dealt with in the programme.