Cancer: what the word means

Cancer stands for many very different diseases. Not every malignant tumor has a grim prognosis. Here you can get an overview of the topic

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Medicine speaks of a tumor when the body's own cells multiply and form a tumor in a tissue or organ. This tumor can be benign or malignant. If it is a malignant tumor - colloquially called cancer - the cells divide and multiply in an uncontrolled manner. In doing so, they can displace healthy tissue, penetrate into neighboring organs or tissue and spread via the blood vessels or the lymphatic system. Daughter tumors (metastases) can form.

Tumors can grow and connect to the bloodstream

© W & B / Jörg Neisel

Which types of cancer are common in Germany?

Prostate cancer is the most common tumor in men, followed by colon cancer and lung cancer. Breast cancer affects women primarily. But even here, colon cancer is in second place, followed by lung cancer. This information is based on estimates by the Robert Koch Institute.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, tumor diseases are the second most common cause of death in this country after cardiovascular diseases. However, the cancer mortality rate has decreased significantly compared with 1980. A smaller proportion of people suffering from cancer are dying today than in 1980.

How can a malignant tumor be treated in principle?

The therapy depends, among other things, on what type of cancer it is, how large the tumor is and whether it has already formed daughter tumors. However, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy still play an important role in the treatment of many tumors. The operation aims to remove the changed tissue through a surgical procedure. If the cancer has not yet metastasized and if it can be completely eliminated, the chances of a cure are usually quite good. The operation is often combined with radiation and / or chemotherapy. These methods are intended to either kill any cancer cells that are still present after the procedure. Or - if these forms of therapy take place before an operation - the tumor should be reduced in size. Other options for certain types of cancer are, for example, hormone or anti-hormone therapy and immunotherapy.

When these treatment strategies aim to fight and defeat cancer, they are called curative therapy. There is also what is known as palliative therapy. It is primarily used when the cancer can no longer be cured. Palliative methods alleviate the discomfort and pain that a tumor can cause and thereby improve the patient's quality of life.