One in three people in Finland will develop cancer at some point during their lifetime. Every year, about 30 000 people are diagnosed with cancer. But two thirds of them recover from the disease. These pages contain basic information about how cancer develops, cancer research, and different cancers and their symptoms.
Cancer is a general term for a large group of diseases, whose causes, characteristics and occurrence can vary greatly. There is no completely clear-cut definition of cancer. Cancer is particularly a disease of older people. Due to population ageing, we have seen an increase in cancer incidence.
Cancer is caused by accumulated damage to genes. Such changes may be due to chance or to exposure to a cancer causing substance.
Mass screening for cancer focuses on specific cancers and their systematic detection in their early stages.
Detecting cancer is a multi-stage process. Often, the patient will go to a doctor because of some symptom or other. Sometimes cancer is discovered by chance or from screening. The final cancer diagnosis is based on a pathologist’s opinion.
Cancer has numerous symptoms. It may be asymptomatic for a long time or it may involve only very general symptoms, such as fatigue or weight loss.
Cancer has a number of different stages. Following exposure to the factor that causes cancer it usually takes a long time before the cancer begins to develop.
Cancer is not a unitary disease but a large group of diseases that include many different cancers. Their causes, symptoms and forms of treatment differ from one another.
Lifestyles are important factors in the formation of many types of cancer. Behaviour and choice can affect our own cancer risks. But when it comes to individual cancers it is not possible to say for sure what causes the cancer.
According to current estimates, only about one in 10 cases of cancer is associated with hereditary predisposition. Cancer is not inherited.