How can we prevent stomach cancer

Prevention research

Prevention research generates knowledge of how cancer can be prevented before it develops or at a very early stage. And it deals with how the findings can be implemented on an individual and political level. Prevention research has made considerable progress in the last few decades and researchers have gained extensive new knowledge. Nevertheless, there is still a considerable need for action. Prevention is therefore a priority in the National Decade against Cancer.

Known cancer risk factors

According to the current state of prevention research, around 40 percent of all new cancer cases diagnosed annually in Germany can be prevented through behavioral changes (behavioral prevention). The aim of the Decade Against Cancer is to further reduce the proportion of preventable cancer. In order to achieve this, the Prevention of the Decade working group is concerned with how knowledge about prevention can be spread across society and more people can be encouraged to actively participate in cancer prevention.

By far the largest cancer risk factor is tobacco consumption - it is responsible for around 20 percent of all cancers, followed by unhealthy eating habits (around 8 percent), obesity (around 7 percent) and lack of exercise (around 6 percent).

A success example for prevention research

Harald zur Hausen, long-time chairman of the board of the German Cancer Research Center, received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2008 for his research on human papilloma viruses (HPV). He realized that HP viruses are the main cause of cervical cancer, one of the most common types of cancer in women.

Based on this knowledge, a vaccine against HPV could be developed. Recent studies show that eight years after the introduction of the HPV vaccination in girls and young women, the incidence of pre-cancerous cancer in the cervix has decreased significantly.


additional Information
Vaccination against cervical cancer: from the hypothesis to the Nobel Prize
Viruses and other pathogens that cause cancer (cancer information service)

Researchers have also discovered that some cancers can be caused by infections. For example, it is now accepted that the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most important cause of cervical cancer. However, not every woman who becomes infected with HPV also gets cancer. So there are other influencing factors (so-called co-factors) that are involved in the development of cancer. Finding this out is just as much a part of prevention research as identifying other cancer-causing infectious agents.

Prevention is also a task for society as a whole. By changing the framework conditions, people can be protected from carcinogenic influences and preventive behavior is facilitated (prevention of relationships). An example of such a policy is the ban on smoking in restaurants. Prevention research creates the scientific basis for this.

In the Prevention Working Group of the National Decade against Cancer, experts therefore also deal with the role that the living environment plays in prevention and discuss appropriate solutions.

Prevention also means detecting cancer early

Prevention also includes early detection measures (secondary prevention). Many cancers can be treated better at an early stage, and some can even be prevented by removing precursors.

However, early detection examinations are not equally useful for all cancers. Based on data from prevention research, screening is recommended for the following cancers: colon cancer, skin cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer.

The Decade Against Cancer will also support further research in the area of ​​early detection, which will lead to the further development of effective preventive measures - for example screening programs or the development of effective methods of risk-adjusted early cancer detection for people with an increased risk of cancer.

Mitigate the consequences of illness and prevent relapse

Prevention research also deals with questions of aftercare (tertiary prevention). This is about how to prevent an existing disease from progressing or a cured disease from recurring. Complications and consequential damage from cancer treatment can also be mitigated by certain preventive measures. Prevention researchers try to filter out these factors on the basis of data.

Implementation of the results from prevention research

Prevention research also deals with how health-promoting behavior (healthy diet, sufficient exercise) can be stabilized and health risk behavior (smoking, alcohol) can be reduced.

In the coming years, prevention research and applied prevention in Germany are to be systematically expanded. To this end, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the German Cancer Aid Foundation have announced the establishment of a cancer prevention center as part of the National Decade against Cancer.

Another topic that the Decade Against Cancer addresses is health literacy, i.e. the recognition and understanding of health information. This is a prerequisite for responsible, health-promoting behavior. Recent studies indicate that a large proportion of Germans have difficulties in finding, understanding, classifying and using health-relevant information. Therefore one of the goals of the Decade Against Cancer Prevention Working Group is to strengthen these skills.

Dr. Christa Maar, Felix Burda Foundation

“Cancer must be prevented. That is why prevention must be given an even higher priority. It makes much more economic sense if a disease does not develop in the first place before it is treated with expensive drugs. I am convinced that personal cancer screening will play a major role in the future. For this we need data and further studies, as well as stable networks. "