Everything about Cancer


The term cancer or cancer disease, which has already become colloquial and which has gained importance in the field of both human and veterinary medicine, is a superordinate term.

What is cancer?

Graphic illustration and infogram of a typical cancer cell. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Cancer.

Behind these collective terms cancer or cancerous diseases are new formations of the body’s own and degenerated cells, which are characterized by a malignancy, a disease-causing effect.

The regeneration of these aggressive and malignant cells occurs in every organ and tissue of the organism and has special properties.

When people speak of cancer, they mean that the body’s own cells, which later develop into a tumor, do not divide in a controlled manner and destroy the adjacent healthy tissue.


The causes of cancer are enormously complex and unfortunately not yet fully researched. This applies not only to the causes, but also to the so-called cancer-causing factors. In general, the causes of cancer are assumed to involve both internal and external factors and triggers that either individually or in combination lead to cancer.

Uncontrolled and degenerative growth of body cells can occur on the basis of unhealthy or altered genetic material. The causes that contribute to abnormal genetic material are also very diverse and can also be influenced by environmental influences.

In addition to environmental toxins such as asbestos or various carcinogenic chemicals, the external and environmental influences of cancer include radioactive radiation, which can cause cancer. These toxins can be in or on food, in water or in the air and can enter the organism through different routes. Various cancer-causing drugs can also promote the development of cancer.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Non-specific symptoms of cancer can include unwanted weight loss, constant tiredness and a decrease in physical performance. The suspicion of a malignant disease is obvious if these symptoms are accompanied by enlarged lymph nodes, fever, night sweats or a palpable tumor.

Depending on the organ affected, a variety of other symptoms can indicate cancer: flatulence, abdominal pain, changed bowel habits and blood in the stool occur in colon cancer, black stool (tarry stool) in connection with stomach pain, vomiting and loss of appetite suggests stomach cancer. If the cough persists for a long time and does not improve with medication, lung cancer must be considered.

This is especially the case when there is bloody sputum, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Chronic hoarseness and persistent difficulty in swallowing can be caused by cancers of the throat and larynx, skin cancer can be indicated by a change in color or the growth of birthmarks. Headaches, visual disturbances and neurological deficits occur with brain tumors.

In women, nodular changes in the breasts or in the armpits are often the first signs of breast cancer, while cervical cancer only manifests itself in an advanced stage through bleeding or brownish discharge. In the case of hardening of the testicles and difficulty urinating, men should consult a specialist to clarify a possible testicular or prostate tumor.


Since cancer is a serious disease that can also be life-threatening, complications can occur again and again as the disease progresses. Since cancer can be deadly and have a variety of consequences in the body, each tumor should be treated individually by specialists. Both without and with medical treatment, the patient can experience cancer-related pain in the body.

Many sufferers complain of difficulty breathing as the disease progresses. Since the cancer and its treatment affect bowel movements, diarrhea or constipation can occur. Weight loss in those affected is often the first symptom of possible cancer. Some cancer patients experience severe wasting with sunken eyes, sagging skin, protruding bones, and a massive loss of fat and muscle mass.

Patients often experience nausea during cancer treatment. The cytostatics used in chemotherapy, but also extensive radiation, can cause discomfort, nausea and vomiting in those affected. If metastases occur in the body, they can destroy tissue in other organs and lead to functional disorders. Paraneoplastic syndromes are symptoms in various organ systems, such as a disrupted hormonal regulation of the water balance due to lung cancer.

When should you go to the doctor?

If you have problems speaking, seeing or moving, seek medical advice. Deafness, speech difficulties and signs of paralysis can also indicate a tumor that, for example, presses on nerve cords or disrupts organ functions. People who keep having severe headaches that don’t seem to have a cause should see their family doctor. Unexplained weight loss should also be investigated. People who visibly lose weight within a month may have cancer or another serious condition that needs to be evaluated. The same applies to unusual changes in the breast area, such as itching, pain, lumps or secretions.

Women who notice unusual vaginal bleeding should consult their gynecologist. Changed bowel habits and other signs of illness in the area of ​​the gastrointestinal tract also require medical evaluation. If a persistent cough occurs or a high fever sets in, it is best to see a general practitioner immediately. Cancer can occur anywhere in the body and the possible signs are correspondingly diverse. Therefore, medical advice should be sought with any unusual health problem. The first point of contact is the family doctor, then, depending on the suspicion, an appropriate specialist must be consulted.

Treatment & Therapy

Lymphocytes are components of the blood. They belong to the natural “killer cells” and to the white blood cells, the leukocytes. In the picture, lymphocytes destroy cancer cells. White: lymphocytes, green: cancer cells. Click to enlarge.

Various methods are currently used to treat cancer, which are carried out both independently and together. In addition to chemotherapy, oncological treatments are characterized by radiation treatment with radioactive rays and the use of cancer-destroying and growth-inhibiting preparations that work on the basis of hormones.

In addition to these forms of therapy, oncologists also achieve great success with the use of surgical methods in which the cancerous tissue is removed. In the majority of cases, if the suspicion of cancer is confirmed, surgical interventions are performed. These are particularly successful if they are undertaken early on. In addition, the metastases are also removed during the operations.

Outlook & Forecast

Cancer treatment depends on the type of tumor and the affected organ. The therapy options that are used are therefore completely different. However, there are therapies that are commonly used. These include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. All forms of therapy are based on the current scientific status of medicine.

Through the development and continuous improvement of therapies, it was possible to achieve a significant improvement in the survival rate for cancer patients. Medicine is based on the absolute survival rate over a period of five years. The chances of surviving cancer have increased worldwide.

Through specific post-treatments, e.g. B. immunotherapies, the human organism can receive support in combating harmful substances. Enormous progress has also been made here. Immunotherapy is now regarded as a beacon of hope for therapy against cancer.

Cancer patients who want to know more about the probable course of their disease will find the best and most experienced adviser and expert in their treating doctor. With the help of the individual findings, the doctor can give the right and important answers and estimate how the cancer is likely to progress.


In order to prevent cancer, it makes sense to reconsider your own lifestyle, to pay attention to an optimal body weight and to stop consuming nicotine. Also, regular physical exercise is good for preventing cancer. Protection against excessively intense and prolonged exposure to the sun and a change in diet are of central importance in cancer prevention.

It is advisable to give preference to plant-based foods over reducing spicy, high-fat and heavily fried animal foods. Reducing alcoholic beverages to the lowest possible limit acts prophylactically against the development of cancer.

Preliminary cancer tests should not be underestimated. These relate to different forms of cancer and become more important for both women and men after a certain age. This applies to mammography to detect breast cancer, cancer screening examinations of the intestines and prostate examinations. In the course of life, however, it is important to also pay attention to external body changes and to carry out a hepatitis B vaccination.


After the actual cancer treatment, those affected need ongoing care. In addition to regular medical examinations and the use of other therapies, a change in lifestyle is also part of the aftercare. Those affected must now restore their quality of life.

The support of the responsible doctors as well as acquaintances and friends is also important when dealing with the illness. The general practitioner can call in cancer counseling centres, psycho-oncologists and social law contacts. Visiting a self-help group is also an important part of aftercare. Depending on the type of cancer, nutritionists, sports groups and other authorities must also be consulted.

The aftercare plan is drawn up together with the doctor and is based on the symptoms, the type of cancer, the general course of the disease and the prognosis. In the first phase, when patients are still processing the consequences of the disease and treatment, aftercare is particularly important. The key is to support patients until remission is achieved.

The risk of recurrence decreases every year. The rule of thumb is five years, although the type of cancer is also decisive here. Medical rehabilitation may also include taking anti-hormones and other medications. In the case of protracted illnesses, follow-up checks and aftercare go hand in hand. The details of aftercare are discussed at the discharge interview or at a separate appointment.

You can do that yourself

Cancer often completely disrupts the everyday life of those affected and makes many things seem pointless. In the context of self-help, everything makes sense that contributes to having a structured daily routine despite the illness and to regaining mental stability.

On the one hand, self-help groups provide valuable services for people with cancer. In such self-help groups, exchanges about the disease, its consequences and individual fears take place in a protected environment. There are also special groups for relatives. Trained supervisors of such self-help groups can give those affected important tips on how to gain strength for treatment and everyday life despite the difficult life situation.

It also helps many of those affected to obtain as much medical information as possible about their cancer. In this way, they can better classify information and make well-founded decisions about therapies. A trusting doctor-patient relationship is of great importance for an optimistic start to modern therapy options. Sick people should not be afraid to ask the doctor treating them any questions. Unspoken worries and hardships weigh heavily on everyday life. Social counseling in the hospital also advises those affected about all the structural and financial support options that they are entitled to in everyday life for the duration of the illness.