Screening examinations and check ups can flag up diseases before the problems or symptoms have actually started.
Screening examinations for cancer in particular can detect precursor lesions at an early stage. These can then be removed before the cancer sets in. Malignant diseases can be effectively prevented in this way. By contrast, in the context of early detection programmes, these so-called malignant diseases are detected in the early stages when they can still be cured.
Check ups: worthwhile screening examinations
Cancer is a very diverse group of disorders: some develop slowly and are not life-threatening, others can be very aggressive. After heart and cardiovascular diseases, cancer is the second most frequent cause of death in Switzerland, as in all western European countries. A total of 35,000 people are diagnosed with a new malignant tumour every year in Switzerland.
Whether a genetic predisposition actually causes a tumour depends specifically on the circumstances of each individual. According to the latest findings, up to 70% of all tumour diseases can be significantly influenced simply through the individual’s life style. Nevertheless, a healthy life style does not guarantee that we will not fall victim to cancer.
The following factors can reduce the risk of tumour-related diseases:
Daily exercise and sport
Avoid becoming obese
Low intake of animal fat
5 daily servings of fruit and vegetables
Secondary plant substances
Vitamins and minerals
Low alcohol consumption: Max. 1 glass of wine per day for women and max. 2 glasses for men
Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight
Avoid carcinogenic substances (including pesticides, moulds, etc.)
These are only guidelines based on the latest findings. We are constantly gaining new insights. And progress is also continuously being made in terms of manageability, for example, fruits and vegetables can be consumed as extracts or capsules.
For targeted preventative treatment, it is important to collate an accurate medical history, to determine both one’s own risk factors and those in your family’s medical history, and to individually decide which screening examinations are required.
Usually, this decision is made together with your GP.
Screening examinations for gastrointestinal and liver diseases:
Bowel cancer (colon carcinoma):
In Switzerland, bowel cancer is the second to third most common cancer. Every 17th person living in Switzerland will suffer from colorectal cancer. Today, still 36% of people who develop bowel cancer, will die within 5 years. In over 90% of cases, bowel cancer stems from precursor lesions, also known as polyps. These can be detected in a colonoscopy and then removed. According to our studies, the colonoscopy reduces both the rate of new cases of bowel cancer as well as the mortality rate for bowel cancer.
The costs for colonoscopy screenings have been covered by health insurance funds since July 2013.
Early detection of bowel cancer:
PDF for download: Fact sheet for the early detection of bowel cancer (in German)
PDF for download: Information leaflet from the Cancer League (in German)
Since the costs were covered on 1.7.2013 by the health insurance fund for everybody aged between 50 and 69.
Liver cancer (Hepatocellular carcinoma):
Bi-annual check-ups using ultrasound to screen for lesions of the liver, are recommended for patients with histologically proven cirrhosis liver.
Stomach cancer (gastric cancer), gullet cancer (oesophageal cancer), pancreatic cancer (pancreatic carcinoma), gall bladder/biliary cancer (cholangiocellular carcinoma), small intestinal cancer and anal cancer (anal carcinoma):
The rate of new cases per year (incidence) for these malignant diseases is 0.5 - 3%: there are no general preventative or screening guidelines in place.
Bundesamt für Gesundheit www.bag.ch, Krebsliga www.krebsliga.ch, National comprehensive cancer network
"Was bringen Check-ups?" (Beobachter): here you find the article (in German only)