Become a "Guardian for Life"

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Take on the role of a “Guardian for Life” and embark on a journey that may even save your life.

As part of our corporate health management program, we’ve launched an online game to raise awareness of an important topic: cancer prevention. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Prevention is the be-all and end-all. To find out what you need to know, just play all three levels and get the facts on this page. But it’s more fun when you play—guaranteed! 

We’ll be checking the Germany-wide High Score to see where the best “Guardians for Life” at TÜV SÜD are located. So you’re playing not just for yourself, but also for your region and division.

The game itself is not a preventive measure. It aims to raise awareness and make people who do not have cancer aware of the danger of cancer and the great importance of prevention.

Here you find further information. It is based on the data currently available.

New Cancer Cases

Number of new cases in 2020, both sexes, all ages (Source: WHO).

  • Colon Cancer

    Colon Cancer

    Level 1 deals with colon cancer, which is the third most common cancer worldwide. In 2020, approximately 1.9 million new cases were recorded globally (Source: WHO). The survival rate of colon cancer depends on the stage at which it is diagnosed, with later-stage diagnosis leading to a lower survival rate. The five-year survival rate for colon cancer diagnosed at an early stage is 90%.
     
    Regular screening is half the battle when it comes to colon cancer. Other key factors are exercise, proper nutrition, and maintaining a healthy weight.

    Prevalence
    Colon cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide and is the fourth most common cause of death from cancer. It is estimated to account for almost 700,000 cancer deaths every year. Over the next 15 years, the number of annual cases of colon cancer is expected to increase by 60% to more than 2.2 million. 

    Colon Cancer Incidence

    Age standardized (World) incidence rates 2020, colorectal cancer, by sex (Source: WHO). 


    Colon Cancer Incidence

    Age standardized (World) incidence and mortality rates 2020, colorectal cancer (Source: WHO). 


    Causes 
    While the causes of colon cancer are not yet fully understood, there are scientifically confirmed factors that increase the risk of this type of cancer—for example smoking and alcohol. Even a daily intake of 0.3 liters of beer for women and 0.6 liters for men increases the risk of disease. Other risk factors for developing colon cancer are obesity, lack of exercise, previous illness involving inflammation of the intestinal mucosa, and above all a family history of the disease. If immediate family members have been affected, the risk of developing colon cancer increases significantly. The more relatives that have been affected, the higher the risk. Diet is also considered to be a key factor in developing colon cancer. An excessive amount of red or processed meat, such as ham or sausages, can have a negative effect  (Source: World Cancer Research Fund, 2018). 

    Early detection
    There are different types of screening programs, for example based on stool tests or CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy). Regular screening is recommended for people aged 50 and above. In general, the chances of recovery are significantly better if the disease is diagnosed at an early stage. Here you will find further information on early detection.

    Prevention
    In addition to early detection, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight help lower the risk of colon cancer. Doing 150 minutes of moderate endurance exercise per week can reduce the risk of developing the disease. A balanced diet is also a must, as fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and dairy products are beneficial to health. Tobacco and alcohol consumption should be avoided  (Source: World Cancer Research Fund, 2018). 

  • Lung Cancer

    Lung Cancer

    Level 2 revolves around one of the world’s most prevalent types of cancer, lung cancer, and ways of preventing it.

    Since there’s not yet a reliable, uniform way of early detection, prevention is everything here. Anyone who has already completed Level 2 knows that being a non-smoker and getting enough exercise is already half the battle.

     

    Prevalence
    Lung Cancer is one of the world’s most prevalent types of cancer. Approximately 2.2 million new cases were recorded globally in 2020. It’s the most common cancer in men with 1.4 million cases, which accounts for 17% of all cancers. It’s also the third most common cancer in women with 770,000 cases, which accounts for 8.4% of all cancers. (Source: WHO) Lung cancer carries the highest mortality of any cancer worldwide, killing approximately 1.8 million people every year, which accounts for 18% of cancer deaths (Source: WHO). It’s the leading cause of death in men in 91 countries and in women in 17 countries. Lung cancer occurs most frequently in developed countries in Europe and North America, especially in large cities and industrialized regions. However, this is not primarily due to air pollution, but much more to a higher incidence of tobacco smoking in those regions.

     

    Lung Cancer Rates

    Age standardized (World) incidence rates 2020, lung, by sex (Source: WHO).

     

    Lung Cancer Prevalence

    Age standardized (World) incidence and mortality rates, lung (Source: WHO).

     


    Causes 
    This leads us to the all-important risk factor for lung cancer: cigarette smoke. Here, the duration of smoking is the most important factor—the earlier you start smoking and the longer you smoke, the higher your risk. This also increases in proportion to the number of cigarettes smoked: smoking two packs a day increases your risk of disease by 40%. Conversely, the risk is significantly reduced if you stop smoking. Overall, 80% of global lung cancer deaths in men and 50% in women are attributable to smoking (Source: World Cancer Research Fund, 2018). Persistent passive smoking also significantly increases your risk. If this is compounded by a family history of lung cancer, your chances of developing the disease can increase even further. Other, but much less likely, causes are radiation, general air pollution, and contact with other harmful substances. Read more here

    Early detection
    Surviving lung cancer mainly depends on the stage at which it is diagnosed—the earlier the better. Options for early detection remain limited, but the following symptoms can be warning signs of lung cancer: cough, shortness of breath, weight loss. Unfortunately, these symptoms become noticeable comparatively late. More detailed information on early detection can be found here

    Prevention
    Avoiding secondhand smoke or quitting tobacco smoking are considered the number one preventive measure against lung cancer. People with lung cancer should have their tobacco use regularly assessed or documented. More detailed information can be found here. 
    Regular physical activity also has a positive effect. Furthermore, a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of lung cancer and is therefore recommended. 
    Specifically, the following evidence of how diet affects the risk of lung cancer has been collected to date:

    • Eating foods that contain retinol, beta-carotene, carotenoids, or vitamin C may reduce the risk of lung cancer. 
    • In people who have never smoked, foods containing isoflavones (plant components with estrogen-like properties) may reduce the risk of lung cancer. 
    • Drinking water that contains arsenic should be avoided because there is strong evidence that this increases the risk of lung cancer. 
    • There is also some evidence that consumption of red and processed meats and alcoholic beverages may increase the risk of lung cancer
      (Source: World Cancer Research Fund, 2018). 
  • Breast and Prostate Cancer

    Breast and Prostate Cancer

    Level 3 deals with breast and prostate cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with nearly 2.26 million new cases recorded in 2020. This accounts for approximately 25% of all cancers in women. In men, the most common cancer is prostate cancer with 1.41 million cases recorded in 2020 (Source: WHO). 

    Since age is a major factor in both cancers, early and regular screening is enormously important. The earlier a malignant tumor is discovered, the greater the chance of cure. In addition, you can help prevent the disease, for example by maintaining a healthy diet and overall lifestyle.

     

    Breast Cancer

    Prevalence: For women, breast cancer is the most common tumor disease worldwide. In 2020, more than 2 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer. The disease is much rarer in Africa and Asia than in Europe or the U.S., largely due to unhealthier Western consumption habits. By the way, men can also develop breast cancer.

     

    Breast Cancer Prevalence

    Age standardized (World) incidence and mortality rates breast, 2020 (Source: WHO). 


    Causes: Breast cancer can also run in families. For a quarter of all women affected, there is an increased incidence of breast cancer in the family. But lifestyle also plays a major role here: excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol can promote disease. Hormone replacement therapies with estrogen and progesterone during or after menopause can also have a negative effect. In general, the risk of developing breast cancer doubles every decade until menopause, after which the increase slows down—but the overall number of cases is still on the rise 

    (Sources: World Cancer Research Fund, WHO).

     

    Prostate Cancer

    Prevalence: Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer worldwide, and the fifth most common cause of cancer death among men. Around 1.4 million new cases were recorded worldwide in 2020, which accounts for approximately 15% of all new cases of cancer in men. In Western industrialized countries, 40% of the male population are at risk of developing prostate cancer during their lifetime.

     

    Prostate Cancer Prevalence

    Age standardized (World) incidence and mortality rates prostate, 2020 (Source: WHO). 


    Causes: Prostate cancer often depends on age and previous illnesses in the family. For example, a man whose father suffered from prostate cancer is twice as likely to develop it as well. However, lifestyle also plays a role, for example in terms of exercise and diet. Being overweight increases the risk of developing prostate cancer. Recent studies also show at least a weak link between smoking and high alcohol consumption and the development of prostate cancer.

    (Sources: World Cancer Research Fund, WHO).

     

    Early detection of prostate and breast cancer
    Types of screening vary from country to country, in some cases massively. In general, when it comes to early detection of breast cancer, mammograms are offered most often because they are currently the best way to find breast cancer at an early stage. As part of prostate cancer screening, a medical history is usually taken and the prostate is palpated. In addition, a blood test can be performed regarding prostate specific antigen (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). For more information about screening options in your area, contact your health department or doctor.


    Prevention of prostate and breast cancer
    In addition to early detection, the best way to prevent both prostate and breast cancer is to eat a balanced diet: fatty (meat) products should be avoided, while fish should be eaten more often. Especially regarding prostate cancer, a diet rich in tomatoes also seems to be beneficial to health because of the lycopene they contain. Sufficient exercise and thus the prevention of obesity also have a health-promoting effect—it’s not so much the intensity but the regularity that counts here. Abstaining from tobacco and alcohol is also beneficial to health. 

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