Cancer development: Causes, risk factors& StatisticsHow cancer develops? Does a tumor already mean that it is cancerous?? Do I belong to the risk group?? How often does cancer occur in old age? In this guide, you will find answers to all these questions that inevitably arise when you deal with the topic of cancer. CARE.de informs you about the development of cancer, its causes and gives an overview of current figures.
Table of Contents
Cancer development: How do cancer cells develop?
The question of how a healthy body cell can become a cancer cell has not yet been conclusively clarified. What is certain, however, is that an altered genetic material has occurred in the cell during the development of cancer or that an error has occurred in the reading of the genetic material during cell division.
Thus, to understand how cancer develops, it is important to understand how cells divide in the body. The following infographic shows cell division – the upper branch illustrates the sequence of a successful defense reaction in the body (= controlled self-destruction of a damaged cell). The lower branch shows the failed defense of a damaged cell (= no controlled self-destruction of the damaged cell). As a result, potential cancer cells develop unhindered here.
green = healthy cells; purple = damaged cells resp. Potential cancer cells
The genetic material contains all the information that determines, for example, the function and appearance of the cells. When a cell divides, the genetic information it contains is duplicated. This in turn is divided into two daughter cells (point 1). During the division, however, errors can occur, from which a damaged daughter cell emerges. At point 2, the damaged cell is self-destructed by the body's immune system in a controlled manner and removed so that it cannot divide further. The proliferation of this potential cancer cell is thus stopped. In the case of point 3, on the other hand, this controlled self-destruction does not take place. The potential cancer cells can continue to divide and multiply unhindered. Over time, a tumor grows in this way, which can be either benign or malignant (point 4).
There are a number of risk factors for cancer that promote these pathological changes. But even in normal, well-functioning cell metabolism, substances are produced that can damage the genetic material. In the course of life, more and more defects and damage accumulate in this way. This is why the risk of developing cancer increases with age (s. Source 1).
Cancer cells: What is the difference to healthy body cells?
Cancer cells do not perform functions in the body. When they become z. B. If the testicles have formed in the kidney, they do not support the kidney in the tasks that arise there, such as urine formation. Cancer cells therefore do not behave like normal body cells, but..
– differ in growth and division, – exhibit different aging and death behavior, and – can leave their original place in the body, colonize other ties, and continue to grow there (s. Source 1).
Tumor, metastases, cysts, nodules and more: What is the difference between them??
There are a lot of terms in cancer medicine. Unfamiliar foreign words can quickly overwhelm the patient, especially during the important diagnostic interview. To help you better understand medical professionals, doctors and doctor's letters in the case, pflege explains.de the most important terms.
Technical term Explanation
Cancer When cancer occurs, some healthy cells in the body change. They begin to multiply uncontrollably, destroying tie in the process. Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells do not perform any function in the body. Cancer develops when the genetic material in the cells is damaged. Then tumors (malignant tumors) develop, which grow into the surrounding tie and destroy it. Tumor The word tumor comes from Latin and means swelling. The term visualizes what happens in the body: Cells multiply excessively, causing swelling in this way. The trigger for a tumor in the sense of a swelling can also be an inflammation. A tumor is therefore not always directly equivalent to cancer, but it depends on the type and the cause of the swelling / lump. Metastases Tumor cells do not always remain in the same place in the body where they first formed. They may spread to the lymphatic system or blood vessels. About it pass to other organs. There they can settle and become sog. form daughter tumors. In this case one speaks of the fact that the cancer has spread. Nodes If a swelling or hardening can be felt on the body, it is colloquially referred to as a lump. Typical places where lumps can be felt are the side of the neck, the breast and the groin. Only a doctor can determine what type of swelling it is. Cyst A cyst is a fluid-filled cavity that is surrounded by a capsule. Mostly cysts are benign. Some cysts also develop as a result of tumors. benign = benign Tumors that do not form metastases and do not destroy other tie are referred to as benign. A benign tumor can be i. d. R. comparatively easy to remove surgically. malignant = malignant A malignant tumor is also referred to as a "cancer". It grows uncontrollably, rapidly, and destructively into surrounding tie and may form daughter tumors in other parts of the body.
What are causes of cancer?
Science and research have already shed a lot of light on the subject of cancer. The individual question of "why?" remains in many cases, however, unexplained. So a case of disease cannot necessarily be traced to an exact cause. Conversely, not everyone who belongs to a risk group will also develop cancer (s. Source 1).
cancer risk& Risk factors for cancer
There are a number of factors that can demonstrably increase the risk of cancer. Mainly these risk factors are in the areas of
lifestyle: unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption,
Environment: inadequate water and air conditions,
Viral infections: Some viruses, once infected, can increase the risk of certain cancers,
Work Environment: exposure to radiation, fumes, gases, chemicals and other carcinogenic substances (s. Source 2).
You have an increased risk of cancer? Take legal precautions in case of emergency. It's never too early to take care of your own advance care documents. Whether it's an accident, an illness or a need for care, there are many situations that can prevent us from sharing our own decisions.
– In a
Living will decide for yourself which medical measures should be taken. Determine for yourself what will happen to you if the worst comes to the worst. – In a Health Care Proxy record who should act on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so.
Cancer risk: Is cancer hereditary?
Is cancer or cancer risk hereditary within the family? This question arises when there is an increased incidence of a type of cancer within the family. The cancer itself cannot be directly inherited. However, if the genetic material in all the body's cells is abnormally altered, this may indicate a familial risk. The pathological change in the genetic material has been either
1. inherited from parents or 2. developed very early in the womb.
In both cases, the risk of developing cancer is higher. Researchers believe that 5 to 10 out of 100 cancers arise due to a hereditary predisposition (s. Source 1).
Cancer risk: What are cancer-causing factors??
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO) and conducts research on whether certain substances are carcinogenic to humans. The IARC regularly publishes its current list on this subject. Currently, the list includes 120 substances classified as carcinogenic by the IARC (s. Source 3).
IARC list: The 10 most known carcinogens
– Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that can settle in the stomach – Hepatitis B, C, and D, all of which are chronic forms of liver inflammation – Herpes viruses – Epstein-Barr virus and human herpes virus type 8 (HHV-8) – HIV, in which the body's defenses are damaged – Human papillomavirus, which v. a. Be associated with cervical cancer 1. alcoholic beverages 2. Tobacco smoke and secondhand smoke 3. burned or. charred food 4. Estrogen preparations after menopause 5. Estrogen-progesterone preparations during menopause 6. hormonal contraception with estrogen-progesterone preparations ("birth control pill") 7. Gasoline and diesel engine exhaust 8. Soot and coal dust 9. radioactive radiation (s. Source 4)
Risk factors: Is there a link between cancer& Obesity?
From obesity or. Obesity is said to occur when the Body mass index (BMI) at 30 or above lies. BMI indicates what the ratio of height to weight is. Studies show that obesity is considered a risk factor for certain cancers (s. Source 5).
BMI is around 30 if you have z. B. ..
– …are 1.66 m tall and weigh 83 kg. – …are 1.80 m tall and weigh just under 100 kg.
You can calculate your own BMI on the website of the Federal Center for Nutrition. For this you simply enter your body weight and height.
Note that BMI is not indicative of the composition of muscle mass to adipose tie. Use it for guidance to better assess your weight.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity not only increases the risk of developing cancer, but also the risk of dying from cancer. At obese men increases the risk of death from the following types of cancer:
– Esophageal cancer – Thyroid cancer – Colon cancer – Kidney cancer
At obese women the risk of death from these cancers increases:
– cancer of the endometrium – gall bladder cancer – esophageal cancer – kidney cancer (s. Source 6)
Risk factors stress& Psyche?
To date, there is no scientific evidence that psychological problems and stress can trigger tumors. However, stressful life events, long-term negative stress and other psychological problems can lead to negative changes in lifestyle in terms of diet, exercise, tobacco and alcohol consumption. As a result, the number of risk factors for cancer is increasing.
– Balanced diet in old age is essential for strong defenses and a good body image. Reduce ingredients such as fat and sugar and incorporate important nutrients such as calcium or omega-3 fatty acids more consciously into your meals. – Drink enough water or unsweetened tea, at least 1.5 liters daily.
– Get regular and adequate exercise, z. B. By taking a daily walk after lunch. How to keep your muscles fit, stay mobile and actively contribute to fall prevention. Thai chi and yoga promote your sense of balance and also provide relaxation.
Living more consciously
– Watch your body weight. Avoid underweight and overweight. – Abstain from nicotine. – Limit your alcohol consumption. Drink alcohol only as an exception.
Take up offers
– Take advantage of cancer screening examinations covered by health insurances.
Risk factor smoking?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking is the most significant risk factor. Smoking is responsible for about 22% of all cancer deaths (s. Source 7). It can both reduce the quality of life, u. a. by secondary diseases like COPD and lung cancer, as well as shortening the general lifespan.
People who want to quit smoking can find Smoke Free.info support by the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA).
Risk factor age?
A cancer can develop at any age. Nevertheless, almost all types of cancer occur much more frequently in older age than in young people. this is mainly due to the advanced age of the dog: with increasing age, the risk of damage to the genetic material of the cells also increases. Damaged genetic material promotes the development of cancer cells (s. Source 8).
Cancer probability in old age
For most cancers, the risk of developing the disease increases with age. The most common cancers in men over 65 years are
The most common cancers in Women over 65 are
Cancer registry: cancer statistics in Germany
The Center for Cancer Registry Data (ZfKD), which belongs to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), is located in Berlin. Here, the data from the cancer registries of the individual German states are bundled and evaluated. The results are u. a. used to assess measures of prevention, early detection, and cancer therapy. In addition, the ZfKD makes cancer research data publicly available (s. Source 10).
The number of cancer patients in Germany
Cancer statistics show that in 2016, there were approximately 1.67 million people living with cancer in Germany (s. Source 8). Every year, around 492 people in Germany are diagnosed with.000 people die of cancer (s. Source 9). Because the risk of cancer increases with age, the number of cancer cases also increases in an aging society and with increasing life expectancy.
The most common types of cancer in Germany
Of the new cancer cases in 2016, these four types of cancer alone accounted for almost half of all cases:
1. Breast cancer: 68.900 cases 2. Prostate cancer: 58.800 cases 3. Colon cancer: 58.300 cases 4. Lung cancer: 57.500 cases (s. Source 11)
Cancer at an older age
This list of new cancer cases from 2014 shows that cancer occurs much more frequently in old age than in younger years.
Age New cancer cases
Under 20 years 2.339 20-29 years 4.457 30-44 years 20.635 45-64 years 148.556 from 65 years 300.135 (s. Source 12)
The Cancer Information Service of the German Cancer Research Center (dkfz) makes it clear that the risk of cancer increases with age: "For every person under the age of 15 who receives a cancer diagnosis, there are 200 to 300 people over the age of 80." (Source
Cancer as a cause of death in Germany
A look at the cause-of-death statistics from 2018 shows that cancers in Germany are the most common cause of death, with about 230.000 deaths per year, cancer is the second most frequent cause of death. In first place are diseases of the circulatory system, with around 345.000 deaths per year (s. Source 13). Psychological support after the diagnosis and during cancer can be of great help. Psychooncologists provide.
Frequently asked questions
How to get cancer?
The question of how a normal, healthy body cell can become a cancer cell has not yet been conclusively clarified. It is certain that a change in the genetic material in the cell has occurred in the development of cancer or that an error has occurred in the reading of the genetic material during cell division. Certain lifestyle factors (so called. However, risk factors) can increase the risk of cancer.
How many people have cancer?
In 2016, around 1.67 million people were living with cancer in Germany. The number of new cancers is increasing every year. This fact is u. a. to be associated with increasing life expectancy, as older age is a risk factor for developing cancer.
How many people are diagnosed with cancer in Germany each year??
In 2016, around 492.000 new cases of cancer.
Is a tumor cancer?
No. Not every tumor is the same as cancer. In medicine, the term "tumor" initially stands for a lump or swelling. That is, they are cells that multiply excessively. The reason for a tumor, in the sense of a swelling, can also be an inflammation. A tumor is therefore not always cancer, it depends on the type and the cause of the swelling / lump. The chances of cure for benign tumors are i. d. R. good.
Cancer, on the other hand, is a malignant tumor, d. h. Cancer cells grow uncontrollably, rapidly and aggressively into the surrounding tie and destroy it. Cancer symptoms, the course of the cancer, the form of treatment and the prospects of successful treatment differ depending on the type of cancer.
Is cancer hereditary?
The cancer itself cannot be directly inherited. However, if the genetic material is abnormally altered in several cells of the body, this may indicate a familial risk. The change in the genetic material was either inherited from the parents or developed very early in the womb. In both cases, the risk of developing cancer is higher.
How cancer develops?
Cancer can develop as a result of damage to the genetic material in the cells. It then comes to the formation of tumors (malignant tumors). They invade and destroy surrounding tie.
How fast does cancer grow? Cancer cells multiply. Invade surrounding ties. How fast this process takes place is u. a. Depends on the type of tumor and the stage of cancer. The sooner a cancer is diagnosed, the better the cancer growth can be counteracted.
Which cancers are hereditary?
Experts estimate that 5 to 10 out of 100 cancers develop due to a hereditary predisposition. A hereditary predisposition has been identified in the following cancers:
Breast and ovarian cancer: 5 to 10 percent of the diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer can be traced back to a hereditary predisposition. The risk of getting prostate cancer also increases between men who have close relatives with breast or ovarian cancer.
Prostate cancer: If a close relative suffers from prostate cancer, the risk of the disease increases by approx. the triple.
Colon or rectal cancer: In this diagnosis, 5 to 10 percent of cases are due to a hereditary predisposition. There is also a correlation to the occurrence of cervical cancer in affected families.
Black skin cancer (malignant melanoma): In the case of black skin cancer, too, 5 to 10 percent can be traced back to genetic factors. Likewise, some forms of brain tumors or pancreatic cancer occur more frequently in affected families (s. Source 14).
Why do you get cancer?
Cancer can develop when e.g. Damage exists in the genetic material. cells consequently divide uncontrolled. The development of cancer cells can be favored by various factors. These include for example. external influences, such as radiation, air quality or chemical substances. Lifestyle can also have an influence, for example. smoking is a significant risk factor for the development of lung cancer.
Does everyone have cancer cells?
Cancer cells are the body's own cells that have had their genetic material altered. This happens in the course of life in most people. Partly benign, partly malignant cancer cells develop. However, it does not necessarily have to become cancerous. They are often recognized and fought by the body's immune system.