Oncology in Germany & Switzerland
Are you looking for an experienced specialist in oncology or an oncological clinic in Germany? At PRIMO MEDICO you will exclusively find specialists, clinics and, centers in their area of expertise. Or, find out more about the treatment focuses and examinations carried out by oncologists.
Specialists in the Field of Oncology
Treatment Focus Oncology
Informations About Oncology
What is Oncology?
Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with cancer. The word originates from the Greek: onkos stands for tumor or volume and logos for science. The word tumor simply means a space-occupying mass, which can also be caused by cysts or water retention.
Cancer means the malignant, so-called malignant degeneration of cells. The cells change their natural properties by altering their DNA. Malignant cells no longer adhere to cell group boundaries or the body's own growth signals, but grow arbitrarily, do not develop to the final stage and spread to other parts of the body. The words tumor and cancer are often used as synonyms in clinical practice.
What Does an Oncologist Do?
The main components in this field are prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare of cancer. Oncology cannot be defined as a separate field of expertise but requires interdisciplinary cooperation.
Prevention falls into two categories: minimizing risk factors and early diagnosis. The treating general practitioner is primarily responsible for this. He/she is the one who informs the patient about the risk factors for cancer and carries out routine examinations. Risk factors are harmful behavior, e.g. smoking or exposure to harmful substances such as asbestos. By changing behavior and reducing harmful exposure, cancer can be prevented. Early diagnosis is about recognizing and treating malignant degenerations as early as possible, as this improves the prognosis significantly. If necessary, the general practitioner can refer the patient to a specialist in a particular institute or clinic, where more precise preventive treatments are carried out.
Medical specialists in gynecology, gastroenterology, dermatology, and urology are also involved in direct cancer prevention and diagnosis. Preventive gynecological examinations can be accessed by any woman as of the age of 20 years as a benefit from medical insurance. This includes:
- Measurement of the blood pressure
- Examination of the labia, vagina, and cervix
- Smear collection from the cervix and cervical canal with subsequent microscopic examination of the cells
- Palpation of the uterus and ovaries
The gynecologist can also advise on vaccination against the dangerous forms of the human papillomavirus (HPV). The Permanent Vaccination Commission (STIKO) of the Robert Koch Institute recommends this vaccination for all girls aged between 9 and 14 years, as it reduces the risk of cervical cancer.
As of the age of 50 years, all those with statutory health insurance can have their stools examined annually. The stool test detects possible amounts of blood that are not visible to the naked eye and may indicate changes in the intestinal mucosa. A colonoscopy, carried out by a medical specialist in the area gastroenterology, can be made use of as of the age of 55: the intestine is viewed from the inside with an endoscope and possible abnormalities such as polyps can be removed directly.
As of the age of 45, men can take advantage of the statutory health insurance companies' offer of screening, which is intended to recognize cancer in the area of the external genitals and prostate. Currently, the so-called PSA test for measuring the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), is not part of the statutory cancer screening. PSA is an enzyme, that can be measured in small quantities in the blood. The concentration of PSA increases significantly in certain diseases including prostate cancer. However, this increase is not specific to cancer and even at normal PSA levels, prostate cancer cannot be completely excluded.
Entitlement to have a skin cancer screening carried out every other year exists as of the age of 35 years. The whole body is examined for abnormalities. Since skin cancer occurs mainly in areas with increased exposure to the sun such as the scalp and the skin on the face, and neck are examined especially closely.
Imaging techniques are initially used to diagnose cancer. Body regions or even the entire body can be imaged in detail in a short time with modern equipment, and the smallest changes can be made well visible. Imaging techniques include:
- CT and MRT
- Scintigraphy, SPECT, and PET
In order to be able to confirm the suspicion of an alteration subsequently, tissue samples are taken, if possible, and handed over to the pathologist. The suspicious material is categorized according to various scales:
- Type of tissue
- Size of the tumor
- Malignancy of the tumor
- Histological nature of the tumor
Based on this information, a prognosis for the origin of the tumor disease can be determined, which is decisive for the appropriate therapy together with the pathological criteria.
The therapy of oncological diseases can be carried out in a hospital or in outpatient clinics. This is decided by the overall condition, the exact disease, and also the preferences of the patient.
Aftercare will be organized by the local physician and the medical facility where the therapy was carried out. In addition, there is a legal aftercare obligation for all patients after radiotherapy. Patients after a breast cancer therapy are monitored by the surgeon, the local gynecologist, and the radio-oncologist.
Medical specialists in hematology, oncology, as well as radio-oncology mainly deal with the diagnosis and therapy of malignant diseases. The most frequent malignant diseases in women are (in descending order of frequency):
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Lung cancer
- Uterine body cancer
- Cancer of the ovaries and fallopian tubes
The most common malignant diseases in men are (according to frequency descending):
- Prostate cancer
- Colon cancer
- Lung cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Stomach cancer
The following therapy options are available:
- Allogeneic or autologous stem cell transplantation
- Antibody therapy
- Dendritic cell therapy
Specialists in radio-oncology treat cancer by irradiating the affected areas with photons or protons. Cancer treatment with heat (hyperthermia therapy) is also used in the field of radiation therapy. They also prevent new cancer, so-called relapses by irradiating former tumor areas. Today, for example, it is a guideline to surgically remove the tumor from patients with breast cancer and then irradiate the affected breast area. It can be distinguished between:
- Curative: with the intention of healing.
- Palliative: relief of symptoms, e.g. pain with bone metastases
- Adjuvant: after the surgery to secure the results
- Neoadjuvant: before the surgery to reduce the tumor
Nuclear medicine specialists use radioactive substances to diagnose and treat cancer. For this purpose, radioactively labeled tracers or radiopharmaceuticals are injected into the bloodstream to bind very specifically to the desired body structure, e.g. labeled iodine is only absorbed in the thyroid gland. Substances that release alpha or beta radiation are administrated for treating tumors. These types of radiation have a penetration depth of only a few millimeters so that their effect is locally deployed at the site of substance accumulation. The radiation causes damage to the DNA and other structures of the tumor cell, causing it to die (necrosis).
Which Cancer Centers Are There?
The German Cancer Society certifies medical facilities on three levels. So-called "organ cancer centers" have been certified on the third level since 2003, "oncological centers" on the second level since 2008, and "oncological top centers" on the first level. The independent institute OnkoZert is responsible for the entire certification system. A number of requirements must be met for these certificates. These include, among others, that:
- There is multidisciplinary oncology for all tumor diseases
- Weekly interdisciplinary meetings, so-called "tumor boards" are set up.
- Guidelines for treating cancer patients through clinical trials are developed and implemented.
- Tumors are classified according to international classification (TMN).
- Research programs for basic research and their clinical implementation are developed.
- Patients receive psychological and palliative medical care.
- Cancer self-help organizations should be involved.
- The center is linked to local doctors and hospitals in the area.
- The quality is recorded and published annually in so-called benchmarking reports.
- Foreign cancer centers have been able to obtain certification from the German Cancer Society as "European Cancer Centers" since the summer of 2006. Applicants for this certificate must meet similar criteria to those listed above.
Which Doctors and Hospitals Are Specialists in Oncology?
Those in need of a doctor want the best medical care for themselves. Therefore, the patient wonders, where to find the best oncological clinic? As this question cannot be answered objectively and a reputable doctor would never claim to be the best one, it can only rely on the doctor’s experience.
Cancer specialists include medical specialists in hematology, oncology, radio-oncology, and nuclear medicine. Specialists in hematology and oncology deal with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. They specialize primarily in degenerative diseases of the organs and the blood system. Various forms of imaging, which are evaluated in cooperation with doctors in radiology and nuclear medicine, are used for the diagnosis.
We will help you to find an expert for your disease. All listed doctors and clinics have been checked by us regarding their outstanding specialization in the field of oncology and expect your inquiry or treatment request.
- Deutsche Krebshilfe: Gemeinsam gegen Krebs – Die onkologischen Spitzenzentren (o.J.), https://www.krebshilfe.de/helfen/rat-hilfe/onkologische-spitzenzentren/ueber-die-onkologischen-spitzenzentren/,accessed September 25, 2017
- Deutsche Krebsgesellschaft: Erhebungsbögen für onkologische Zentren (o.J.), https://www.krebsgesellschaft.de/deutsche-krebsgesellschaft-wtrl/deutschekrebsgesellschaft/zertifizierung/erhebungsboegen/onkologische-zentren.html, accessed September 25, 2017
- Krebs in Deutschland 2009/2010. 9. Ausgabe. Robert Koch-Institut und die Gesellschaft der epidemiologischen Krebsregister in Deutschland e.V. (Hrsg.). Berlin 2013
- Von Koh: Darmspiegelung schon ab 50 – vor allem für Männer, https://www.dkfz.de/de/presse/pressemitteilungen/2017/dkfz-pm-17-06-Darmspiegelung-schon-ab-50-vor-allem-fuer-Maenner.php, accessed September 25, 2017
- Herold, Gerold (2017). Innere Medizin. Thieme, Köln.
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