Cancer is a disease that occurs when cells mutate and begin to divide uncontrollably. Normal body cells work according to their internal clock. This internal clock regulates at what point the cell divides, grows, ages and dies, that is, all those natural processes that make up the cell’s life-cycle, i.e., the so-called cell-cycle. In a cancer cell, this regulatory mechanism is damaged. Unfortunately, this disease can’t be cured without medical treatment.
According to WHO (World Health Organization), in 2015, 8.8 million people died of cancer globally. Nevertheless, modern medicine is developing rapidly, and every year more and more cancer treatment options are emerging, as well as preventive ones. Often, a combination of methods is applied. The treatment will have the best effect if it is started at an early stage. The price of treatment usually varies depending on the type of intervention.
What are the first symptoms?
Health professionals should be aware of the predisposing factors and, while gathering data on the patient’s medical history, pay particular attention to issues such as members of the family with cancer, lifestyle (including smoking), and past or present diseases. Examples of past/present diseases and conditions include immune system disorders, hepatitis B or C, and HIV infection. Signs and symptoms that may be indicative of cancer include:
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
- Changes in bowel habits
- Constant pain
If they are present, you should immediately see a doctor and undergo an examination. A symptom is what the patient feels and describes, while a sign is something that everybody, including the doctor, can observe. A rash, for example, is a sign, because we can all see it. A headache, on the other hand, is a symptom, because only the patient is aware of it.
The following methods are used to determine whether the patient has cancer:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- Computed tomography (CT).
- Ultrasound diagnosis (conventional ultrasound and endo-ultrasound).
- Multispiral computed tomography (MSCT).
How can we prevent the development of cancer?
There are effective cancer prevention strategies that minimize the risk of developing the disease. Modern medicine has three types of active cancer prevention approaches: primary, secondary and tertiary.
Primary prevention includes strengthening the body’s immune system, a change in lifestyle, and nutrition modifications. Quitting smoking and alcohol abuse, becoming more physically active, following a healthy diet, and bodyweight normalization are all very important.
Secondary prevention inclues the detection and control of precancerous diseases and the treatment of early-stage cancer. Secondary prevention measures include smears for oncocytology (cervical cancer), preventive examinations, the identification of risk groups, mammographies (breast cancer), annual lung CT scans of smokers, and PSA blood tests (prostate cancer).
Tertiary prevention is the prevention of cancer relapse and metastasis. Studies have shown that smoking, an unhealthy diet, and lack of physical activity are the main factors that increase the risk of cancer significantly. The risk of a relapse is significantly smaller for people who adopt a healthy lifestyle compared to their less health conscious counterparts.
Three types of treatment
Surgery in oncology can be curative and palliative. Its main purpose is to remove the tumor. During the initial stages, the tumor itself is excised with a small area of adjacent tissue. In the advanced stages, the affected organ can be removed entirely, as well as any affected surrounding tissues and lymph nodes.
Palliative surgery is aimed at restoring patency of the esophagus, intestines, ureters, and reducing the pressure of the tumor on the vessels and nerves.
These surgical interventions improve the condition of patients in the last stages of the disease, i.e., when recovery is no longer possible. In recent years, surgeons have switched from open surgery to laparoscopy (the modern method, when operations are performed through small incisions), which accelerates patients’ recovery and alleviates symptoms of, for example, discomfort or pain.
Radiation therapy can be used instead, after, and before surgery, as well as for inoperable cases. The aim is to stop the progression of the tumor and the development of metastasis. For this, special devices are used that target the tumor with particles or special waves. In the first case, protons or neutrons are used.
Alternatively, treatment may involve the use of X-rays and gamma radiation. The DNA of the actively dividing cells is damaged, which stops or slows down their proliferation.
Chemotherapy uses cytotoxic medications to destroy cancerous cells. If something is cytotoxic, it means that it is toxic (poison) to cells. This type of treatment disrupts cell growth and division. However, it also affects healthy cells. That is why patients often feel unwell when undergoing treatment with cytotoxic drugs, i.e., chemotherapy.
Sometimes, doctors treat patients with just chemotherapy. More often, however, it is used in combination with radiation therapy, surgery, or both.
Where can I get treatment abroad?
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it’s time to start planning your treatment in Germany. You can do so by simply going to the website bookinghealth.com and placing your request or inquiry. A patient case manager will call you back and provide answers for all your questions regarding the treatment of oncology in Germany. Qualified specialists will help you choose the best clinics. Your health is in your hands, do not waste your time. Booking Health can help you to get the treatment you need at affordable prices.