More than 8 million patients die from different types of cancer annually. Currently, it is the second leading cause of death in the world. Therefore, it is evident that patients are interested in finding a good clinic for cancer treatment, most often abroad.
Doctors and specialists abroad not only use the achievements of modern medicine but also actively work on research to improve existing treatment methods and create innovations. There is comparative data about the clear advantage of having international treatment instead of only local doctors.
Searching for new possible treatment solutions in oncological cases is becoming increasingly popular. According to medical tourism experts, every third patient comes abroad with an inaccurate diagnosis, which foreign doctors deny. The problem is complex:
- Lack of modern equipment;
- Use of outdated diagnosis and treatment methods;
- Lack of possibility to conduct clinical trials and research;
- Questionable competence of specialists due to lack of qualified personnel.
Symptoms associated with oncology
Cancer is very different. And the symptoms it can cause too. There is no precise gradation of when and in which types of cancer-specific symptoms occur. Any inexplicable and persistent fatigue or loss of vitality without apparent reasons is a reason to consult a doctor.
Malignant tumours can locate in many body parts and migrate (metastasise) anywhere. Therefore symptoms vary depending on the organs involved. The specialists from the cancer societies recommend paying attention to such signs as:
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Fever. At some stage of the disease, all cancer patients can experience fever, primarily if the cancer treatment affects the immune system.
- Fatigue. Severe tiredness that does not go away after rest is one of the early signs of malignancy.
- Pain. Often, pain is a sign that a tumour has already spread to other organs. But it can also be an early sign of bone or testicular cancer.
- Changes in skin condition: darkening of the skin, yellow skin and eyes, redness, itch, and increased hair growth.
- Intestinal and urinary bladder disorders. Prolonged constipation, diarrhoea, and blood in the stool are reasons to visit an oncologist. Pain during urination, frequent urges to urinate, and blood in the urine may indicate prostate cancer.
- Ulcers that do not heal.
- White spots in the mouth cavity.
A possible change in symptoms characterises oncology. Patients can notice that some signs disappear over time. But, the disease can be very tricky. If you have some complaints, visiting a doctor can be rationable.
Cancer diagnosis abroad
Advanced technologies and equipment are available for diagnosing oncology abroad, thanks to which doctors detect cancer at the earliest stages and ensure the accuracy of the process. However, patients should understand that only proper examinations can lead to successful treatment. Among the modern diagnostic methods, it is worth highlighting:
- Ultrasound 4D -the latest diagnostic method using ultrasound to suspect a malignant neoplasm and find out its size and some other features;
- Computed tomography (CT) with intravenous contrast (usually in 3 areas - abdominal cavity, chest and pelvis, sometimes, if necessary, brain CT) — gives a complete picture of the size and location of the tumour and the presence of metastases in other organs or lymph nodes;
- MRI with a high resolution of 3 Tesla performs the same function as CT but gives more accurate information about nerve structures and the involvement of blood vessels in the process;
- PET-CT is a device for accurate diagnosis of cancer at the earliest stages. It helps the doctor to search for metastases anywhere throughout the body and is relatively often used in foreign clinics compared to domestic ones;
- Endoscopic and FUSION biopsy is taking a sample of the material and studying it under a microscope to establish an oncological diagnosis and determine the properties of the tumour. At the same time, in most cases in foreign clinics, oncologists also check for gene mutations and other tumour features to verify the cause of the disorder and select a targeted treatment. But unfortunately, there are cases when patients come with the wrong biopsy results.
The undoubted advantage of oncology treatment abroad is the time spent on the examination: the patient undergoes the entire diagnosis in about 24 hours and, after a few days, receives a treatment program developed based on the results of the examinations.
Advanced treatment solutions in oncology
Doctors have used chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and oncological surgery to treat cancer for many years. Today, however, these methods are fundamentally different from what they used to be or still are in less developed countries.
New radiotherapy and radiosurgery units have appeared that require fewer irradiation courses, have maximum exposure accuracy and are safe for healthy tissues:
- Gamma Knife and CyberKnife are the "gold standard" for treating tumours and small neoplasms, primarily single and multiple cancer metastases. High doses of radiation, delivered with an accuracy of up to 0.04 mm, destroy cancerous cells.
- Proton therapy uses proton beams and does not damage surrounding healthy tissues compared to traditional radiotherapy.
- Radioembolization is a method of introducing radioactive antitumor drugs directly into the arteries feeding the malignant neoplasm.
These are cancer vaccination with dendritic cells, the use of targeted drugs (biological and immunological), and local chemotherapy:
- Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) - the introduction of drugs into the vessels feeding the tumour and blockage of this artery.
- Transarterial chemoperfusion (TACP) - is the administration of antitumor drugs into the vessel to the malignant neoplasm. In this case, chemo drugs do not unfold their effect in the whole body (systemic) but mainly in the affected area (regional).
Local treatment methods such as cryotherapy (icing), interstitial laser photocoagulation (laser heat), percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI), and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) are an option as an alternative to surgery. Cancer can be attacked directly and targeted in this case, so the surrounding healthy tissues are not harmed.
Increasingly, surgeons use robotic technologies for oncology treatment. For example, the removal of tumours with the help of the da Vinci robot. Robotic surgeries have been carried out for more than ten years in the world's leading clinics. Now it is not only prostate cancer surgery but also interventions in gynaecology, otolaryngology, cardiac surgery and general surgery.
Recently developed nuclear medicine approaches, such as Lutetium treatment and radioiodine, brings fantastic results for advanced cases. Lu-177 is a newly FDA-approved option for metastatic prostate cancer with proven benefits. Patients all over the world come for targeted solutions.
Advantages of medical tourism for cancer treatment
Medical tourism provides oncological patients with the best choices and the most comfortable conditions for high-quality medical care. Every year, more and more patients prefer clinics, doctors and modern cancer treatment methods abroad. Specialists in the field of medical tourism and satisfied patients note the following main advantages of cancer treatment in foreign hospitals:
- International protocols for effective treatment for all oncological diseases;
- Drugs that are gentle on the body;
- Available original medications (not generics or alternatives);
- There are world centres and clinics for the treatment of oncological conditions, the survival rate of which is much higher than the average;
- Modern technical equipment contributes to more prosperous and less traumatic cancer therapy;
- A multidisciplinary approach and cooperation between a clinical oncologist, a surgeon, a radiation therapist, a narrow specialist, and a rehabilitation specialist contribute to correct and complete remedy.
- The cost of medical service in oncological departments is less expensive than in US or Canada and is still affordable for less developed countries.
Can I get cancer treatment abroad?
Patients choose treatment abroad to receive more effective, faster, and often more affordable medical care than at home. In addition, large clinics abroad often provide significant discounts to patients from other countries. The organisation of treatment abroad is also being improved. In addition to international departments of a particular clinic, some companies take care of all questions associated with choosing a clinic and a doctor, accompanying a stay in the country, and planning and coordinating diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
Is cancer treatment expensive in other countries?
The medical service аbroad is built based on a policy of "transparent prices". Each country has its pricing system. For example, Germany has a special disease-related system group (DRG) that calculates each procedure cost by paying attention to the difficulty. This approach helps predict expenses accurately before the trip and avoids overpayments and fraud.
Which countries have the highest survival rate in oncology?
Patients often choose Israel, which is recognised as the world leader in cancer survival rate. Then such countries as Germany, Turkey, Spain, and the USA show not the highest results. But the cost of treatment in the USA is about two times higher than in Israel and Germany.
How much does it cost to cure cancer?
The cost of cancer treatment abroad depends on the general prices for medical services in the country, the chosen clinic, the specialist's fee, and the list of necessary diagnostic and treatment procedures. It's not possible to estimate prices for diagnosis treatment. Each case might require a different treatment program. Better to get your case evaluated rather than have an extensive price range.
What are the most successful cancer options?
At the moment, for most forms of cancer, the most effective is surgical intervention (namely, modern minimally invasive technologies). But oncologists achieve the best results by carrying out complex treatment with a combination of modern methods of radio- and chemotherapy. More and more cell-based methods have developed in recent years: immunotherapy, cancer vaccine with dendritic cells, and targeted treatment. In addition, some completely new approaches related to radio particles are presently approved, e. g. Lutetium 177 for prostate cancer patients shows promising results.
What are the leading countries for Oncology (Cancer Treatment)?
What are the best clinics for Oncology (Cancer Treatment)?
Who are the best doctors for Oncology (Cancer Treatment)?
Prof. Dr. med. Jurgen Gschwend from University Hospital Rechts der Isar Munich
Prof. Dr. med. Thomas J. Vogl from University Hospital Frankfurt am Main of Goethe-University
Dr. med. Holger Heidenreich from Academic Hospital Bundeswehr Berlin
Dr. med. Anett Tillmann, MBA from Academic Hospital Bundeswehr Berlin
Prof. Dr. med. Markus Braun-Falco from Dermatology Centre Prof. Braun-Falco Munich