Modified genetic material triggers uncontrolled cell growth
All malignant tumours, lymphomas and leukaemia come under the heading Cancer. Cancer cells appear when certain genes alter their genetic information and cells are pushed into continuous replication mode. This can occur in many parts of the body. The pathologically altered cells can spread throughout the organism and form secondary growths known as metastases.
The older a person gets, the more vulnerable they become to cancer. This is reflected in the number of new cases: The average age of onset of disease is 69 for both men and women. In line with demographic developments in Germany from 1980 to 2006, the total number of new cases of cancer per year has increased by 35 percent in women and 80 percent in men. According to the statistics, every second man and 43 percent of women can expect to get cancer at some point in their life.
Varying survival rates
The most common forms of cancer are breast cancer for women and prostate cancer for men. After that, intestinal cancer (colonic carcinoma) is the second most frequent cancerous disease in Germany.
Five-year survival rates vary widely from cancer to cancer. They range from over 90 percent (for certain types of skin cancer, testicular and prostate cancer) to below 20 percent (for oesophageal, lung and pancreatic cancer).
Smoking, obesity and lack of exercise
For many types of cancer, the cause is unknown or the known triggers cannot be influenced. However, certain risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol consumption or UV-radiation can precipitate a cancerous disease. High blood pressure and raised lipid and sugar levels in the blood, often linked to obesity, also increase the risk.
It´s well worth taking advantage of screening programmes to catch and treat diseases such as breast and intestinal cancer at the earliest possible stage.
• Deutsche Krebshilfe e.V.