Cancer: the 5 most aggressive types and how you can almost halve your risk

For most types of cancer, medicine today can promise high cure rates or at least many symptom-free years. Some tumors resist any therapy: they grow quickly and aggressively or only show themselves when they can no longer be stopped.

There has been a lot of good news about the dreaded disease "cancer" in recent years, especially with regard to the chances of healing and survival of the most common types of cancer. If a tumor is discovered in time, nine out of ten women with breast cancer and nine out of ten men with prostate cancer survive the critical five-year mark. Even with skin cancer, the recovery rate is more than 90 percent.

For other cancers, things don’t look quite so good: They either resist treatment options or grow so quickly that they are not detected until it is almost too late.

These aggressive cancers also have very poor survival rates. However, and this is the good news, even for these tumors the risk factors can be reduced. In general, doctors believe that about half of all cancers could be prevented by a healthy lifestyle.

1. Pancreatic cancer – tumor with the worst prognosis

The pancreas produces the hormone insulin for blood sugar metabolism. It also produces digestive juices. It has its own specialized tissue for each of these two functions. Most malignant tumors develop in the tissue that produces the digestive juices.

This is how many people fall ill:

According to cancer registry data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), in 2014 (latest published figures), about 17.000 people in Germany suffer from pancreatic carcinoma. Just as many sufferers died. Men and women are equally often affected. The average age at onset of the disease is over 70 years.

Why cancer is so aggressive:

Malignant cell changes in the pancreas do not cause any symptoms for a long time, so that the tumor is only detected at an advanced stage. Discovered early, a cure would be quite possible. Once surgical removal of the tumor is no longer possible, the probability of survival decreases.

Preventable risk factors:

Risk factors include smoking, passive smoking, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Survival rate:

Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rates among all cancers: According to the RKI, only nine percent of patients reach the five-year mark.

  • Read also: What lifestyle protects the pancreas – and what destroys it

2. Liver cancer – the painless tumor

Cancer in the detox organ usually develops from cirrhosis of the liver, when liver tissue converts to connective tissue. Chronic liver inflammation, such as hepatitis B or non-alcoholic fatty liver hepatitis, also underlies a cancerous disease.

So many people get the disease:

In the past 30 years, the number of new cases has doubled in both men and women. In Germany, there are currently (RKI 2014) about 9000 new cases of the disease per year, and almost 8000 deaths. Significantly more men are affected. RKI figures from 2014 for new cases: 6370 men vs. 2710 women.

Why cancer is so aggressive:

The first signs of liver cancer do not appear until the disease is in an advanced stage. This limits treatment options. Thus, classical chemotherapy with strong cytotoxins is not an option for a liver with reduced functional tissue. Surgery is also possible only if enough healthy liver remains. In three out of four cases, liver cancer cannot be surgically removed at the time of diagnosis.

In the case of liver carcinoma, the tumor often recurs after initially successful treatment.

Preventable risk factors:

Alcohol consumption is responsible for 15 percent of liver cancer diagnoses in women and 35 percent of liver cancer diagnoses in men in Germany. High drug consumption is also considered a risk factor for the organ, which must break down toxins in the body.

Survival rate:

The five-year survival rate for liver cancer is twelve percent on average.

Our PDF guide explains the most important functions of the liver and how to combat symptoms such as bloating.

3. Lung cancer – on the rise in women

A tumor in the bronchial tubes or the tissue of the lungs is one of the most common cancers. About 80 percent of patients are diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and 20 percent develop small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

So many people fall ill:

More than 50 people are diagnosed with cancer in Germany every year.000 people were diagnosed with tumors of the lungs or bronchial tubes. While the number of cases among women has risen steadily in recent years, the rate among men has declined. In 2014, according to the RKI, there were 34.560 men and 19.280 women. Died in the same year 29.560 men and 15.524 women.

Why cancer is so aggressive:

Generally, lung cancer does not cause any particular symptoms at first. It is therefore discovered late, which in turn is responsible for the low chance of cure. In the case of lung tumors, which are discovered late, there is often a relapse in the next two or three years after successful initial treatment.

This is especially tragic for small cell lung cancer (SCLC), which grows and spreads rapidly. The majority of patients are not diagnosed until the fourth stage of the disease, when metastases are already present. Surgery is rarely considered, at best for very small and localized tumors in the first stage. However, the cancer is only detected this early in five percent of patients.

Preventable risk factors:

Smoking, but also high exposure to exhaust fumes, particulate matter, smog favor the development of lung cancer.

Survival rate:

Of the common cancers, lung cancer has the worst prognosis. After five years, only 15 percent of male and 20 percent of female patients are still alive.

4. Brain tumor – the most common is also the most deadly one

Cancer in the brain occurs rather rarely. It accounts for less than two percent of all malignant tumors. There are several subtypes with very different cure rates. For example, children, who are relatively frequently affected, have different tumors than adults. Cure rates reach more than 90 percent. In adults, the most common brain tumor is, of all things, the most malignant, glioblastoma.

This is how many people become ill:

In 2014, the Robert Koch Institute registered around 6700 new cases of brain tumors in Germany, 230 of which were children. 5770 people died from this disease in 2015. Glioblastoma – an extremely aggressive brain tumor and one of the most aggressive cancers in adulthood – affects about 2500 people in Germany every year. Men have higher morbidity and mortality rates than women. The average age of onset is in the mid-60s.

Why cancer is so aggressive:

Glioblastomas grow rapidly; on average, this tumor doubles in size every 50 days. It grows so fast that even the blood vessels cannot keep up with transporting blood to its interior: The core of the glioblastoma dies, but the cancer continues to grow.

Preventable risk factors:

Lifestyle factors have no influence whatsoever on brain tumors.

survival rate:

The five-year survival rate for all brain tumors is just over 20 percent, with glioblastomas having a significantly worse prognosis of around five percent. The average survival time is 15 months from the time of diagnosis.

Our team of experts has identified more than 1.700 excellent clinics, divided according to indications and regions, compiled.

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