Cancer is the second most common cause of death after cardiovascular disease. This means that anyone can experience cancer. When diagnosed in the early stages, the likelihood of a cure is high, but for this you need to undergo regular examinations and lead a healthy lifestyle. We tell you how to reduce the risk of cancer and how insurance can help.
Statistics on cancer in Russia
Every year, doctors diagnose an increasing number of cases of oncology. The increase in indicators is associated not only with the incidence rate, but also with other factors. For example, an increase in life expectancy: the older a person, the more likely they are to face health problems. The spread of new diagnostic methods also affects the detection of cancer. Modern medicine finds malignant tumors at an early stage.
All countries maintain statistics on oncological diseases. A general analysis of the global spread of cancer is carried out by the WHO (World Health Organization). Statistics for Russia for the past years are as follows:
- 2019 year. Nearly 4 million cancer patients. About 650 thousand primary cases of morbidity have been diagnosed.
- 2020 About 550 thousand cases of cancer have been diagnosed. The decrease in the incidence is associated with a pandemic: people went to the doctors less often and did not undergo routine examinations because of the fear of getting infected.
- 2021 Almost 800,000 new cases have been diagnosed. Strong growth has also been linked to the pandemic. People who did not see a doctor in 2020 were examined in 2021.
There are no detailed statistics for 2022 yet, but medical experts predict a further increase in indicators. They also talk about a surge in deaths. Due to the pandemic, many people did not get tested on time and did not find the problem at an early stage. In 2023-2025, a large number of patients in the late stages of the disease are expected to visit. The likelihood of successful treatment in such cases is reduced, and the risk of death increases due to tumor growth and spread of metastases.
You can compare statistics data with indicators around the world. According to WHO, the highest incidence of cancer in the Nordic countries. They diagnose 689 cases for every 100,000 people a year. This indicator is the least in the countries of Central Asia: 103 cases per the same population. This does not mean that people there are healthier. The figures primarily reflect the availability of diagnostics. In developed countries, the incidence rate is higher because doctors successfully detect and treat cancer. In states with a low level of medicine, the disease simply does not have time to be noticed, because medical care is not available to a large number of the population.
The most dangerous types of cancer
Cancer remains one of the most dangerous types of diseases because it is difficult to detect at an early stage. At the first stage, the disease responds well to treatment if the patient turned to a specialist in time. But often oncology begins to develop asymptomatically, and it is possible to diagnose it only when metastases have already grown. A person goes to the doctor with complaints of feeling unwell and only then finds out that the disease has already developed to stage 3 or 4. Therefore, some types of cancer are considered the most dangerous, and the mortality from them is higher.
Here are oncological diseases, the frequency of death from which in Russia is the highest:
- respiratory cancer;
- stomach cancer;
- colon cancer;
- mammary cancer;
- pancreas cancer.
In this case, breast cancer and cervical cancer are detected most often. With regular examinations, these diseases lend themselves well to diagnosis, so they can be successfully treated in the early stages.
The distribution of certain types of cancer differs around the world. For example, in Russia and Japan, oncology of the gastrointestinal tract is common. This is due to the high amount of starch from potatoes and rice in the diet. Liver cancer is common in Africa due to the consumption of mold-infected nuts and grains. Lung cancer is more common in countries where a significant proportion of the population smokes: Ireland, Scotland and the UK.
Such geographic differences suggest that many factors influence the risk of oncology. This is not only a genetic predisposition, but also menu features, lifestyle, and the level of medical care in the country. Some risk factors can be reduced on their own by changing daily habits.
Causes of oncology
Scientists have done a lot of research to understand what causes cancer. Some causes are still unclear, but many risk factors have been identified that provoke oncology. Here are the most common prerequisites for the development of diseases:
- Smoking. The reason is the many carcinogens contained in tobacco smoke. They damage healthy DNA and cause cell mutation. Pipes and hookahs are as dangerous as cigarettes. The smoke that passive smokers involuntarily inhale is also harmful.
- Excess weight. It leads to an increase in insulin and estrogen, causes a chronic inflammatory process in the tissues. These factors cause excessive growth of cells: both healthy and atypical.
- Viruses and infections. Some diseases themselves become precursors of oncology. For example, diseases caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori or human papillomavirus. Many people are asymptomatic carriers, but if the immune system cannot overcome the virus, its oncogenic types will provoke the growth of cancer cells.
- Lack of physical activity. This is an indirect factor leading to weight gain. Regular exercise helps to avoid obesity, reduces elevated hormone levels, relieves stress.
- Wrong nutrition. Some foods have an oncogenic risk. For example, red meat, highly processed foods, drinks that are too hot.
- Alcohol. It increases the level of estrogen, damages the cells of the larynx and esophagus, and negatively affects the liver. Alcohol is harmful regardless of the type of drink and its strength.
- Working conditions. Some types of work force specialists to constantly interact with harmful chemical compounds. For example, in the field of agriculture, mining, construction.
- Ecology. The level of air, water and soil pollution in the region also affects the growth of malignant tumors.
- Solar Activity. Ultraviolet radiation is carcinogenic to human skin and can lead to cancer. Especially dangerous is prolonged exposure to the active sun in childhood and adolescence.
- Hormonal factors. This reason is important for women’s health. Pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and taking oral contraceptives affect hormone levels. Breast cancer and cervical cancer can be triggered by a combination of these factors.
- Genetics. Many cell mutations are inherited. If there are cases of oncology in the family, close relatives also have a high probability of diseases.
Some causes of cancer are still unknown. Many people live in regions with good ecology, lead a healthy lifestyle, have a safe profession, and still face the disease. But if you remove the provoking factors, the likelihood of oncology can be reduced.
Can cancer be prevented
It is impossible to completely protect yourself from cancer. A person cannot influence some factors, so none of the methods will give a reliable guarantee. For example, nothing can be done about hereditary factors that also affect the likelihood of the disease. However, a healthy lifestyle will reduce the risk of developing cancer. Here’s what doctors advise:
- Follow nutrition. It is recommended to eat more vegetables and fruits, whole foods. The amount of fat, red meat, processed foods should be reduced.
- Control weight. Obesity is a serious factor that provokes cancer, so it is important to maintain a normal weight. For self-control, you can calculate BMI – body mass index.
- Give up alcohol and smoking. This is one of the main reasons for the development of oncology.
- Exercise. Physical activity helps control weight and hormone levels, reduces insulin, and neutralizes the negative effects of stress. It’s not about professional sports. A daily half-hour walk at a brisk pace in the fresh air is enough.
- Perform self-diagnosis. Cancer is successfully treated in its early stages, but it is difficult to detect it at this stage. It is important to monitor the state of health and control all alarming changes. It is recommended to monitor the size of moles, conduct a self-examination of the mammary glands and, if symptoms are suspicious, immediately consult a doctor.
- Use sun protection. Ultraviolet radiation is dangerous, but it is quite easy to protect yourself from it. You can use special products for the skin, wear closed clothes and not lie on the beach during hours of high solar activity.
The main goal of all these measures is to reduce the risk of disease. But it is important to remember that no one can be completely protected. Therefore, you need to monitor your health and regularly undergo medical examinations. If cancer is detected in the early stages, the prognosis for a successful cure is about 95%.
How to get tested for cancer
Early diagnosis is very important for successful treatment. But the problem with cancer is that it often affects the internal organs. There are no pains or other symptoms at the first stage, so it is impossible to detect a malignant formation on your own. The doctor is consulted only when there are complaints about well-being. Such symptoms usually indicate the later stages of the disease, when treatment is difficult, expensive and not always effective.
There are two ways to detect a problem early:
- Planned dispensary. Usually performed once a year. This is a general examination of the body by various specialists and the delivery of tests. Under the CHI policy, you can undergo a medical examination free of charge once every three years up to 39 years inclusive, and annually after 40 years. You can also take a survey for a fee or VHI at any time.
- Oncoscreening. A special set of studies to detect cancer in previously healthy people. It is carried out for risk groups, upon reaching a certain age or as directed by a doctor.
Usually, the examination begins with a planned medical examination. It is advisable to visit doctors at least once a year. If the specialist detects specific changes or complaints, he may refer the patient for cancer screening. Its program includes special studies that help identify oncology of various organs. Here are some procedures that a doctor can perform:
- ultrasound. Helps to identify tumors, but does not show their malignant or benign nature.
- CT and MRI. Even very small foci of the disease are detected.
- Biopsy. Analysis of tissue samples taken from the tumor.
- Mammography. Breast examination for women.
- Blood test for tumor markers. Effective for some types of cancer, such as ovarian and prostate.
- Pap test. The study of cells of the cervical canal for the diagnosis of cervical cancer.
- Colonoscopy. It is used to detect diseases of the colon.
You do not need to complete all studies at the same time. The need for tests is determined by the doctor based on the patient’s condition. If suspicions of a malignant tumor are confirmed, the patient is referred to an oncologist.
How insurance can help
Free medical care is provided within the framework of MHI – compulsory health insurance. So far, not every region has modern oncological centers. In small towns, there may not be an oncologist at all, and you will have to go to a specialist in a larger municipal center. Although the state provides minimal basic care, treatment still requires significant financial investment. It is often necessary to get advice from a second specialist, contact a narrow-profile center, and conduct additional examinations. It is important to do everything quickly, because the earlier treatment is started, the more likely a positive prognosis.
Life insurance is a good way to protect yourself financially. If the policyholder is diagnosed with oncology, he will not be left alone with the disease. Special cancer insurance programs help build the treatment process and cover all financial expenses. For example, the policy “Medicine without borders” includes:
- consultations of medical experts;
- treatment abroad in clinics specializing in a particular disease;
- support of the curator and translator for the entire period of treatment;
- issuing visas, arranging accommodation for the patient and his companion;
- a full course of diagnostics, treatment, necessary medicines.
All expenses are covered by the insurance company. The sick person does not need to spend time in the queues of the clinic and look for treatment options that are affordable for his budget. The policy fully covers all expenses, and the organization is handled by specialists. Quick help helps to defeat the disease and at the same time not be left without a livelihood.
In addition to specialized insurance against oncology, there are also advanced programs. For example, you can insure your life against disability. If, as a result of an illness or injury, a person is unable to work, compensation will help pay for treatment or support the financial situation of the family at a difficult time. There are also special policies that protect life and health before the operation. Surgery is often necessary for the treatment of oncology, and the policy will help to carry out all procedures without additional financial burden.
Insurance does not protect against cancer, but helps to avoid financial difficulties in case of illness. If a person does not have serious savings that can be used to pay for expensive treatment at any time, it is worth considering buying a policy. For oncology programs, it is important to take out insurance before the disease is discovered, otherwise you will not be able to receive compensation. At the same time, you can insure not only yourself, but also family members. It is especially important to do this in the presence of risk factors: cases of oncology in the family, poor ecology in the region, and an unhealthy lifestyle.