Communications and Marketing

Changes brought about by cancer

Researchers study how cancer impacts our quality of life

No. 40b | 26/07/2013

A diagnosis of cancer instantly changes the lives of those affected. It causes anxiety and insecurity regarding treatments, their side effects, and the future in general. But how much does a person’s quality of life really deteriorate? Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg are now studying this question. In the “LinDe” study, they are asking more than 10,000 healthy and sick people about their quality of life. German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe) is providing €356.000 to help fund the study.

Picture: Jorma Bork, pixelio.de

“’LinDe’ is an abbreviation for ‘Quality of Life in Germany,’” explains Dr. Volker Arndt from the Division of Clinical Epidemiology and Aging Research. “The data collected in this study will help us answer a number of important questions: How do Germans rate their quality of life? What factors influence their ratings? How do chronic diseases such as cancer affect quality of life over the long term?”

The LinDe study is based on 10,000 questionnaires that are being sent to male and female German residents who have been selected randomly from registration offices throughout the country. Study participants are questioned on topics such as their quality of life, their physical activity and social environment.

The study places a particular focus on tumor diseases. “A cancer diagnosis is a dramatic experience for those affected,” says Arndt. “The disease and any therapy it involves, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, can lead to various physical, psychological and social problems. These problems may also have severe adverse effects on the quality of life of patients, even many years after therapy.”

“Our aim is to identify adverse effects on quality of life caused by cancer and to study ways by which they can be avoided.” Improving medical and psychosocial care for cancer patients is one such endeavor.

Background information: Cancer in Germany

The Robert Koch Institute estimates that at present more than 490,000 people are newly diagnosed with cancer each year in Germany. The number of cases is rising – by 2050 it may have increased by a third. The reason lies with increases in life expectancy. The older people get, the less reliably cellular repair mechanisms work. The health care system is facing enormous challenges. German Cancer Aid is facing this challenge: It supports the interests of those affected, offers help and advice for cancer patients and their families, and is committed to improving the prevention and early detection of cancer.

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. More than 1,300 scientists at the DKFZ investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and search for new strategies to prevent people from developing cancer. They are developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to all questions on cancer.

Jointly with partners from the university hospitals, the DKFZ operates the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg and Dresden, and the Hopp Children's Tumour Center KiTZ in Heidelberg. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of the six German Centers for Health Research, the DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partner locations. NCT and DKTK sites combine excellent university medicine with the high-profile research of the DKFZ. They contribute to the endeavor of transferring promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improving the chances of cancer patients.

The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.

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