Sep 28, 2023 at 6:04 am
About half of Dutch people will be diagnosed with cancer at least once in their lives. That is considerably more than, say, thirty years ago, when it was still 1 in 3 people.
Since 1990, the chance of being diagnosed with cancer has increased by 14 percentage points. This now concerns 54 percent of men and 47 percent of women, researchers from the Integrated Cancer Center of the Netherlands (IKNL) write on Thursday in the Dutch Journal of Medicine.
This increase can partly be explained by the fact that we are getting older than before. For men this is on average 7 years, for women 3.5 years. The period in which you can be diagnosed with cancer has therefore become longer. “In addition, cancer occurs more often in old age. Therefore, a higher life expectancy leads to an increase in the risk of cancer,” the scientists said. The fact that we are getting older is in itself a positive thing: nowadays fewer people die from cardiovascular disease than thirty years ago.
The risk per type of cancer also differs from the past, often because we now have a different lifestyle. We are more exposed to the sun’s radiation, so the risk of melanoma (skin cancer) is greater. More people are overweight, so more people get liver, bile duct, esophageal or kidney cancer.
Conversely, the risk of lung cancer (particularly in men) has decreased because we smoke less. And better hygiene and antibiotic treatments reduce the risk of the so-called Helicobacter pylori bacteria – and therefore also the risk of stomach cancer.
Finally, cancer research has also improved over the past thirty years. For example, doctors can perform better blood tests and scans than before. This also means that more people are being diagnosed with cancer these days.
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