Toward new targets for the diagnosis and treatment of malignant diseases
Thematic issue dedicated to Theresia Thalhammer
Cancer remains among the leading causes of death worldwide; in the USA, the lifetime risk of developing (invasive) cancer for a woman is 38 % and for a man is 43 % [ 1 ]. Similar data are published for European countries. Alarmingly, the lifetime risk for persons in the UK to be diagnosed with cancer is projected to be 47 % in 2030 [ 2 ]. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that annual cancer cases will rise from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million within the next 2 decades [ 3 ]. In light of these numbers and the fact that malignant diseases impact dramatically on the patients, their families, and societies, it is a major aim of physicians and scientists to reduce the burden of cancer. In part, this already can be achieved at the individual level by avoiding or reducing major risk factors such as tobacco smoking or excessive sun exposure, unhealthy diets, or obesity, which account for more than 30 % of cancer deaths. From the remaining cases, many would have a high chance to be cured if the tumor is detected early and treated adequately. However, we still lack tools for early diagnosis and treatment of malignant diseases, and this remains a research area with a huge potential of development.