Oncology

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Cancer is the second most common cause of death worldwide. Due to new therapies the prognosis of cancer has drastically improved.

What is cancer?

In case of cancer, normal cells start to multiply in an uncontrolled way, enter the healthy tissue and damage it, thereby turning into cancer cells. In most cancerous diseases a malignant growth, a so-called tumour, develops. In later stages of the disease, cancer cells may spread throughout the entire body forming new tumours in other parts of the body (e.g. lungs, liver) which are called metastases. They destroy healthy tissue and can affect vital functions.

Why do people fall ill from cancer? 

Certain parts of the genetic material of our cells, the so-called genes, can be subject to mutation. Under normal conditions, the body will try to repair a mutated cell. However, the repair mechanisms for our genes can fail, thus leading to a damage of our genetic material which may cause the development of cancer cells. Certain factors such as UV-rays, tobacco, chemicals, chronic infections, excessive consumption of alcohol, an unhealthy lifestyle or little exercise can increase the risk of cancer. Approximately 10 to 15% of all cases of cancer are most likely triggered by hereditary factors.

How often do cancerous diseases occur?

Cancer is the second most frequent cause of death worldwide after cardiovascular disease. In Austria, about 35.000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year. The most frequent forms of cancer amongst women are breast, lung, stomach and intestinal cancer, whereas common forms of cancer amongst men are prostate-, lung- and intestinal cancer. On average, the age of cancer onset lies at about 70 years. Due to rising life expectancy, experts predict that in twenty years’ time, 15 million people will fall ill from cancer each year.

How does therapy work?

Every patient receives a personalized therapy plan with the goal to remove the tumour permanently. In addition to the operational removal of the tumour, several other therapy methods can be applied (e.g. radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and immunotherapy). Over the last few years, scientists have developed new types of therapy which drastically improve the prognosis of cancerous diseases.

Further information: Österreichische Gesellschaft für Hämatologie und Onkologie and Österreichische Krebshilfe   

References: Österreichische Gesellschaft für Hämatologie und Onkologie: http://www.krebspatienten.info/ ; Österreichische Krebshilfe: http://www.krebshilfe.net/home/