When and how will we cure cancer

Is Cancer Curable?

Scientists and oncologists are very careful with the word "cure". "One can only speak of a cure when the risk of a relapse is statistically very unlikely," explains Dr. Ludwig Lutz, Secretary General of the Bavarian Cancer Society. The internist from Munich summarizes here what statistically determined chances of recovery say for the individual cancer patient.

In Germany there are 1.6 million cancer patients who have survived the period of 5 years after diagnosis. This figure was determined by statisticians for the brochure “Cancer in Germany for 2013/2014”.

Another piece of good news: 5 years after diagnosis, more than half of all cancer patients are still alive. Since it is very unlikely that there will be a relapse after 5 years, there is a high probability that most of these survivors have actually been cured.

But if you have only just been diagnosed with cancer, this knowledge is of little use. Because looking ahead, the question “Can I be cured?” Is unfortunately not that easy to answer.

In such cases, doctors and scientists refer to the cancer statistics, from which the so-called survival rates are determined. They can be calculated worldwide for a period of 5 or 10 years - broken down according to type of cancer, gender and location of the solid tumors. Corresponding information is also available for lymphomas and leukemia.

The brochure “Cancer in Germany” gives the survival rates for 27 different types of cancer. The results are clearly presented in a bar chart and refer to the 5 years between 2010 and 2014. There are currently no more recent data.

Some types of cancer are very curable. Have relative 5-year survival rates greater than 90% ...

  • Young men with testicular cancer
  • Men with prostate cancer
  • People with black skin cancer

The relative 5-year survival rate for ...

  • People with thyroid cancer
  • People with Hodgkin's disease
  • Women with breast cancer

With such encouraging percentages, however, this does not mean a guarantee for the individual cancer patient, but only: With these types of cancer, the chance of surviving the cancer is very high. Whether someone belongs to the 90 or 80 survivors or not depends on many individual criteria. Ask your doctor, who knows all of your findings:

  • At what stage was the cancer discovered or treated?
  • Where was the tumor? Could it be completely removed?
  • Have metastases already formed?
  • How is your general condition?

At the lower end of the scale are these cancers with low 5-year survival rates of 10 to 15%:

  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer

But even with cancers with a low survival rate, the hope remains that each patient will be one of the few people who will survive the cancer within 5 years of diagnosis. However, a longer lifetime or a cure are very unlikely.

When the cancer progresses and orthodox medical professionals see no more options for successful cancer treatment, some patients are particularly susceptible to promises:

  • This includes people who say to themselves: “I am now also trying out alternative medicine. Because what do I still have to lose? ”In such cases, critics point out that faith healers and charlatans are taking advantage of precisely this plight and building their business model on it. In most cases, however, their means and methods do not help, the treatment only costs the cancer patients unnecessarily time and vitality - and also a lot of money that could possibly be better spent on palliative medicine in a hospice.
  • The second group includes cancer patients who have always rejected conventional medicine. They believe in the healing power of herbal and natural healing methods and in the few cases of complete healing. In fact, spontaneous healing is possible - even without any treatment - but this has been shown to be extremely rare and only occurs in a few types of cancer.

Critics point out that self-appointed cancer experts in most cases cannot completely prove the effectiveness of their means and methods using scientifically recognized methods. You should also be suspicious if studies are given as sources in which the success can only be proven for laboratory or animal experiments. With such pseudoscientific evidence, there is often no indication of the possible unpleasant side effects.

Therefore, when making commercial offers, look for evidence of efficacy for a randomly selected number of people who have been treated in order to compare them to a non-treated control group.

Here you can find out more about the question: "How do I find trustworthy information about cancer?"

Worried about your future or that of a close relative? Then you can contact our psychosocial cancer counseling centers. Our employees are psycho-oncologically qualified social pedagogues and psychologists, some with years of professional experience. We are happy to assist you with our knowledge and experience. Give us a call or make an appointment for a personal consultation. You can find our address in the contact.

The Bavarian Cancer Society at a glance

We have been helping people with cancer and their relatives to cope with the disease since 1925. Our qualified employees support you in all psychological and social issues - competently, confidentially and free of charge.


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