Colon cancer new cases reduced by 14 percent across Germany

Colon cancer new cases reduced by 14 percent across Germany

New study: Colon cancer risk significantly reduced in Germany
Colon cancer is the second most common malignant tumor in men and women in Germany. Over 25,000 Germans die of it every year. A new study has now shown that early detection, in which cancer precursors are discovered, has significantly reduced the number of new cases.

Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer
Colon cancer is one of the three most common types of cancer in Germany. Almost a fifth of those affected have a family history. People who suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are also at increased risk. In addition, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption and malnutrition, such as a very high-fat and meat-rich diet, are among the factors that increase the risk of colon cancer. There are also scientific studies on this. A study from the United States showed that vegetarians are less likely to develop colon cancer. According to health experts, this cancer is often curable if diagnosed early: early detection can save lives. This is also shown by a new study by German researchers.

New cases and mortality dropped significantly
As the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) reports in a press release on the occasion of the colon cancer month of March, screening colonoscopy was included in the statutory cancer screening program in Germany in 2002. DKFZ scientists have now calculated that the age-standardized colorectal cancer incidence rate in Germany fell by around 14 percent between 2003 and 2012. This decrease was most pronounced in the age groups from 55 years in which the study is offered. Age-standardized colorectal cancer mortality was reported to decrease by almost 21 percent in men and even by over 26 percent in women. Previous research has shown that early detection is particularly effective in colorectal cancer.

Cancer precursors can be removed on examination
Colonoscopy is early detection and at the same time a real "cancer prevention"; because any cancer precursors that have been discovered can be removed immediately during the examination. “Preventive colonoscopy”, as the examination is called in technical terminology, was included in the statutory cancer screening program in Germany for insured persons aged 55 and over in October 2002. Between 2003 and 2012, around 20-30 percent of the beneficiaries took advantage of this offer. Hermann Brenner and his colleagues at the DKFZ, together with scientists from the Saarland Cancer Registry and the University of Lübeck, investigated whether and to what extent screening colonoscopy is already effective ten years after its introduction.

Colon cancer usually develops slowly over the years
Because colorectal cancer in most cases develops very slowly over many years, the full effect of the preventive measure will only take effect in the long term. However, the age-standardized rate of new cases fell by 13.8 percent in men and by 14.3 percent in women between 2003 and 2012. Age-standardized colorectal cancer mortality decreased by 20.8 percent in men and even by 26.5 percent in women. The sharp decline in newly diagnosed colon cancer cases selectively affected the age groups from 55 years. According to the information, the incidence rate had previously increased over several decades, and only in the period under investigation did the trend reverse. In contrast, no comparable decline in new cases was observed in the age groups under 55, who are not offered the preventive medical check-up.

Avoid death from colonoscopy
Based on empirical data from the United States, the experts assume that the positive trend will continue in Germany and will even intensify. "With colonoscopy, many tumors are discovered at an early stage with good chances of recovery, which is why mortality is even lower than the rate of new cases," said epidemiologist Michael Hoffmeister from the DKFZ. And study leader Hermann Brenner added: “Today there are more than 60,000 new cases of colorectal cancer and more than 25,000 deaths from colorectal cancer every year in Germany. Most of these cases could be avoided by a colonoscopy - that is the best argument for using this effective preventive offer! ”. (ad)

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