The cancer is gone, the question remains | When will I be
66 percent of breast cancer patients are still alive ten years after initial diagnosis Photo: fotolia/ andreaobzerova – stock.adobe.com
Cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. According to statistics, every second person affected can be cured. But what does that mean – and can I be sure at some point that the cancer really will never come back??
"Patients are not cured of cancer until they die of another disease" – that’s a joke among cancer doctors. The truth, of course, looks different: BILD answers the most important questions surrounding the question of when cancer patients are cured.
How many people get cancer?
In 2014, there were 476,120 patients – of which 226,960 were men and 249,160 women. The most common cancer in men is prostate cancer (57 370 new cases), in women breast cancer (69 220 new cases). The trend is upward!
Between 2004 and 2014, the absolute number of new cancer cases increased by six percent for men and nine percent for women. It has primarily to do with the fact that our society is getting older.
If you factor out this effect, you see a ten percent drop in disease rates for men, and a three percent increase for women. That has primarily to do with the fact that more women are now dying from lung cancer and other cancers promoted by smoking!
This is what life after cancer is like
Three years ago, Gwendolin (36) was diagnosed with breast cancer. Today it is healthy. Still, the disease rules their lives – still.
How many cancer patients can be cured?
Basically, it’s said that one in two cancers can be cured. This statement is based on the so-called five-year survival rate. This means that anyone who is cancer-free five years after the initial diagnosis is considered cured. This was true for about 50 percent of patients in 2014.
If the cancer never comes back?
You can’t say that! There is no definite "cured" for cancer! Recurrences can still occur after the first five years following the initial diagnosis, even if patients are initially cancer-free. But the risk of relapse is generally significantly reduced after five years.
For orientation: the ten-year survival rate for breast cancer is around 66 percent (the first five years are survived by well over 80 percent). And the 15-year survival rate for children who develop cancer is 81 percent.
Which cancers come back less often than others?
High survival rates for testicular cancer, skin cancer, thyroid cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer. At the other end of the scale are mesothelioma, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer and lung cancer.
What do cancer patients need to keep in mind after therapy?
Every cancer patient receives a follow-up plan after therapy and rehab so that relapses are detected as early as possible. By the time the five years are up, the patient i.d.R. to follow-up appointments at fairly short intervals (every three to six months). For some types of cancer (z.B. breast and prostate cancer), patients continue to be treated with anti-hormones for many years.
The treatment of patients with leukemias and lymphomas also takes a long time, especially in chronic cases. In these cases, as well as in the case of advanced cancers, we speak less of follow-up care and more of progress control.
What are the late effects of cancer?
Even if the cancer has been successfully treated, late effects of the therapy or the disease can still occur years later – these include z. B. Chronic fatigue and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
But the biggest problem is usually the fear of a relapse or the progression of the disease. Especially before follow-up appointments, the psychological strain on former cancer patients is often immense. Many take advantage of the help of a psychooncologist. Support is also offered by cancer counseling centers and self-help groups.