Cancer prevention measures

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WHO names measures to reduce individual cancer risk

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is one of the most common causes of death worldwide, in particular lung cancer (1.59 million deaths in 2012), liver cancer (745,000 deaths), stomach cancer (723,000 deaths), colon cancer (694,000 deaths), breast cancer (521,000 Deaths) and esophageal cancer (400,000 deaths) play a significant role. According to the WHO World Cancer Report 2014, a total of 8.2 million deaths were due to cancer in 2012. At the same time, the World Health Organization lists various measures with which everyone can do something to prevent cancer.

According to the WHO, “knowledge about the causes of cancer and possible interventions is crucial for successful cancer prevention.” According to the WHO, more than 30 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented by avoiding the main risk factors. In addition to smoking, the main risk factors include a lack of physical activity, alcohol consumption, urban air pollution, sexually transmitted HPV infections, as well as being overweight and obese. For example, tobacco consumption as the most important cancer risk factor causes about 22 percent of global cancer deaths and about 71 percent of worldwide deaths from lung cancer, reports the WHO.

Avoiding risk factors The list of measures taken by the WHO to improve cancer prevention comprises only four points: avoidance of risk factors, vaccination against HPV (Human Papillomavirus) and hepatitis B, a reduction in sun exposure and control and switching off of occupational risks. In many cases, however, prevention approaches are difficult for individuals to implement. For example, while sun exposure can be reduced relatively easily, it is much more difficult to effectively avoid all risk factors, especially if those affected have contact with them in their professional environment. By avoiding the main risk factors (tobacco, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise), according to the WHO, the cancer risk is already significantly reduced. In countries with low incomes in particular, infections with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C viruses (HCV) and HPV are responsible for up to 20 percent of cancer deaths, which is why appropriate vaccinations are mentioned here as a prevention strategy by the WHO.

Improving early detection According to the WHO, the number of cancer deaths could also be significantly reduced by improved early detection, since early diagnosis and treatment often lead to a cure. The area of ​​early detection not only includes the so-called screening programs that are used, for example, to search for early forms of cervical, colon and breast cancer, but also individual awareness of possible cancer signs plays an important role here. Because the sooner those affected correctly interpret the apparently unspecific complaints, the more likely they are to see a doctor, who can initiate treatment. Knowledge of possible cancer symptoms is crucial for the success of treatment. (fp)

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