Medical Topics

Learn more about medical terms and diseases.

We have compiled some medical topics for you below. You will learn, among other things, the difference between a tumor and cancer or how genetic analysis contributes to prevention.

If you can not find the answer to your question in our Knowledge Center, please get in touch with us. We will be happy to answer your questions.

Interesting Facts about Medical Topics

A tumor is a proliferative tissue that results from the dysregulation of cell division and cell growth. It can originate from a single cell. A benign tumor is limited to a specific tissue. If the cell growth is altered to such an extent that surrounding tissue is affected or the tumor spreads to other parts of the body, it is referred to as a malignant tumor or cancer. Benign tumors can also develop into malignant tumors over time. In any case, early detection of the tumor is important in order to be able to intervene in time if necessary.

Diabetes mellitus types I and II, and maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) are all associated with a disorder of the sugar metabolism. However, the causes of the disease differ from one another.

Type II diabetes mellitus is the most common form of diabetes. Its development is facilitated by obesity, lack of exercise and an unbalanced diet (high in sugar and fat and low in fiber). The body can no longer take up as much sugar into the cells as it used to because the “key” for this, insulin, is produced less and the cells are no longer as sensitive to insulin. As a result, the sugar remains in the blood and the blood glucose level rises. Type II diabetes originally occurred almost exclusively in later adulthood. However, young adults and adolescents are also becoming increasingly affected.

In type I diabetes mellitus, there is a complete lack of the hormone insulin, as the pancreas no longer produces it as usual. This form of diabetes usually occurs in childhood or adolescence. Those affected are dependent on insulin therapy.

MODY diabetes usually manifests itself in adolescence or early adulthood. Due to the increasing number of cases of early diabetes mellitus type II, there is an overlap in the onset of symptoms, which should be taken into account when making a diagnosis. The cause of MODY diabetes, which we investigate in our Prevention Panel, are genetic variants that can disrupt the sugar metabolism in different ways. Depending on the type of diabetes, different therapies might be fitting. The earlier a genetic variant is known, the better one can adapt to it and, if necessary, initiate appropriate therapies.

Cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which causes the affected person to have increasingly blurred and low-contrast vision. In comparison, glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve fibers in the eye, for example due to high intraocular pressure. Without treatment, this can lead to blindness. As glaucoma is a gradually progressing and irreversible disease, early detection is particularly important. Since glaucoma can be genetic, preventive genetic diagnostics is useful to be able to initiate appropriate preventive measures if a variant is present.

Even though a healthy diet and sufficient exercise are always a good start, preventive healthcare should be individualized. Every person is unique, and prevention should therefore be tailored directly to the needs of the individual. Genetic analysis can be used to find out possible predispositions for diseases due to inherited changes in the genes. With this information, prevention can then be adapted accordingly, and special attention can be paid to areas of increased risk. For example, if someone is prone to thrombosis, thrombosis stockings may be more important for long flights or train journeys than for someone with an average risk in this area. For many conditions, the time of diagnosis is crucial to the course of the disease. Basically, the earlier a disease is detected, the earlier something can be done about it and the better the chances of treatment and recovery. If there is a variant for an increased risk of breast cancer, for example, more frequent preventive examinations can be initiated to detect the occurrence of a tumor as early as possible and thus increase the chances of recovery.

If a risk factor for a certain disease is identified with preventive genetic diagnostics, this does not necessarily mean an inevitable fate. Lifestyle also has a relevant influence on health. A genetic predisposition can be counteracted with a timely lifestyle change. For example, if you have an increased risk of certain cardiovascular diseases due to a genetically inherited variant, but you eat a healthy diet, exercise in consultation with your cardiologist and, if necessary, take medication to counteract this early on, the risk of the disease breaking out can be significantly reduced. We therefore have a major influence on our health in many areas.

Personalized medicine means medical care is adapted to an individual. The aim of this is to achieve the highest possible effectiveness of preventive measures and therapies and to minimize side effects. Various factors can be analyzed to determine the best option for the individual. These include external factors such as the patient’s height, weight, and diet, but also genetic factors. If the individual genetic risk factors are known, prevention options and drug dosages can be personalized on that basis.

In Germany, there is a law called the Genetic Diagnostics Act, defining the framework conditions for genetic diagnostics. An interdisciplinary, independent genetic diagnostics commission compiles up to date guidelines in line with the current state of research. Among other things, this concerns the right to know and not to know, i.e. to be able to decide at any time whether one wishes to learn or explicitly not to learn the result of a genetic test. The law also includes a declaration of consent and genetic counseling, which must take place before genetic testing. This is of course also part of a genetic test at our center in Tübingen. In the medical field, the genetic test itself must always be commissioned by a doctor. Please feel free to contact us for this. We will provide you with further information on genetic counseling and can then initiate diagnostics on request.

Your Question Was Not Included?

If you could not find the answer to your question here, please take a look at our other sections.

Biological Topics

Information about the DNA structure, how a variant occurs, and much more

Technical Topics

Information about next-generation sequencing and much more

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