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Follow-up care for cancer patients should be intensified
Health experts have paid special attention to cancer screening in recent years. In many cases, the examinations can diagnose cancer and treat it better. Now experts point out that aftercare has to be improved after the illness.
Intensify aftercare for patients
There are more and more new cancer cases in Germany. The number of new diagnoses in Germany has almost doubled since 1970. However, life expectancy with cancer has increased across Europe. This development is also related to the progress in treatment and diagnostics. Measures such as colonoscopy are very effective for cancer prevention. Now German cancer research also wants to intensify aftercare for patients.
Around half a million new cases every year
As the "Pharmaceutical Newspaper" (PZ) reports, Volker Arndt from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg said before World Cancer Day on February 4: "In the past ten years there has been a growing awareness of providing patients with more than just a cure. "
According to the information, about 500,000 new cases are registered in Germany every year. There are currently around 3.5 to four million people diagnosed with cancer in this country. According to Arndt, a patient is not automatically healthy after overcoming the disease.
The rule of thumb has long been that people who have been cancer-free for five years are considered healthy, but according to Arndt, this depends on the type of tumor.
“With many types of tumors, for example breast and prostate cancer, patients have worse survival chances than those not affected, even five years after diagnosis. Some of the late effects also only occur many years after the end of therapy, ”explained the expert.
Heart problems after chemotherapy
In the past, doctors had often only checked the blood values after the cancer had been overcome and checked for a possible recurrence. But according to Arndt, a series of studies would show that former cancer patients have problems that differ from the symptoms shortly after diagnosis and therapy.
For example, breast cancer patients may experience heart problems after radiation or chemotherapy. Other patients may experience sleep disorders or chronic fatigue.
Aftercare pass for patients
According to the PZ, Wolfgang Hiddemann from the University of Munich clinic explained that it depends on the patient's “risk profile” what the aftercare should look like. He warned against relying exclusively on apparatus medicine for aftercare. The dialogue between doctor and patient is at least as important.
Doctors should treat cured cancer patients with sensitivity, but not with excessive restraint. "Not all of these people are traumatized," says Arndt. “Of course it's a turning point, but many say that they have learned to appreciate life again. They paid a high price for this knowledge. ”
Some health insurance companies provide a follow-up card that is intended to help those affected to think about the necessary controls after chemotherapy or radiation therapy - and to keep track of such treatments and appointments. (ad)