Leukaemia is a deadly malignant neoplasm, which, unlike many other oncological diseases, often affects children. In most countries the health care system cannot cope with this disease, so patients often have to treat leukaemia abroad.
Germany is one of the countries that provide medical care to cancer patients from all around the world. In addition, a huge amount of patients come here specifically to treat leukaemia.
What is leukaemia?
Leukaemia is a vast group of malignant diseases of the hematopoietic system. The disease can be acute or chronic. The growth of the neoplasm from immature cells – blast cells indicates acute one. In the chronic form of leukaemia the tumour consists of maturing or mature blood cells.
The most common types of acute leukaemia are:
Although the term leukaemia in western medicine is usually used to designate cancer of the hematopoietic system, the Russian translation of the word implies a significant increase in the concentration of white blood cells in the blood, including blast forms.
According to one of the classifications, the following types of leukaemia depending on the concentration of white blood cells can be found:
- Leukaemic - the level of white blood cells exceeds 50х109/l
- Subleukaemic - the level of white blood cells is increased, but it is less than 50х109/l
- Leukopenic - the concentration of white blood cells is low upon the availability of blast forms
- Aleukaemic - there are few white blood cells and no blasts
If not treated, leukaemia causes death. Modern treatments can significantly improve the prognosis by prolonging the patient's life or completely curing him/her from the malignant tumour in the hematopoietic system.
Principles of leukaemia treatment
Unlike other cancers, leukaemia has no single focus of tumour cells, which could be surgically removed. Therefore, chemotherapy is the main treatment for the disease, since it affects the foci of the tumour in the whole body wherever they are.
There are many chemotherapy regimens. The choice of drug combinations, as well as of their dosages and duration of administration is determined by a number of factors:
- Patient’s age
- Histological type of the neoplasm
- Number of chromosomes in the pathological cells
- Foci of the tumour in the structures of the central nervous system
- Translocation of areas of certain chromosomes of the pathological cells
- Concentration of white blood cells in the blood
- Response to treatment
The treatment is divided into several stages.
- Induction. The goal of the treatment is to reduce the number of blast cells in the bone marrow sample to 5% or less. This condition is called complete clinical-hematologic remission.
- Consolidation. The goal of the treatment is a long-term preservation of the complete leukaemia remission. This stage involves the use of chemotherapy and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
Germany offers all the advanced treatments for leukaemia. In addition, stem cell transplantation (the established name of the procedure is bone marrow transplantation) is very common.
It can be:
- Autologous - transplantation of patient’s own cells
- Allogenic - transplantation of donor cells
The autologous transplantation is safer for the person and he/she tolerates it more readily. However, allogeneic transplantation is more effective and not only provides a chance for a long-term remission, but also for a complete cure from leukaemia.
Advantages of leukaemia treatment in Germany
Germany offers better treatment of leukaemia, as well as other malignant oncological diseases. Here you can receive the greatest possible effect of the treatment.
The main advantages of treatment in Germany are:
Diagnostic capabilities. A highly established selection of treatment regimen for leukaemia requires numerous examinations. Some of these are high-tech and not available in a number of countries. It is possible to prescribe the most effective treatment regimen only after determining all prognostic factors.
High-tech procedures. First of all, this refers to the hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, which is often used to treat leukaemia. Treatment in Germany ensures the best possible chance for the patients’ survival and reduces the risk of complications of bone marrow transplantation.
Opportunity to find a suitable donor. If the patient does not have relatives with good tissue compatibility, he/she has to look for a non-relative donor to have a bone marrow transplant. Germany has the second largest potential donor base, which includes more than 5 million people. From comparison, all the countries in the world-excluding Germany collectively have a stem cell donation database of 20 million people.
High quality support of vital activities during induction. Germany uses supportive therapy. It differs depending on the patient’s condition.
German hospitals use:
- Infusion of RBC mass - for severe anaemia
- Infusion of platelet mass - for bleeding
- Leukapheresis – sampling of white blood cells from the peripheral blood
- Injection of donor white blood cells at one of the stages of bone marrow transplantation in order to reduce the risk of infectious complications
- Prescription of antibiotics and other groups of drugs – for the development of infections
Innovative treatments. New drugs and leukaemia treatment regimens are being constantly developed in the world and particularly, in Germany. German hospitals use them much earlier than most other countries. Here patients can have the latest treatments, including the use of targeted therapy (monoclonal antibodies, control point inhibitors).
The latest immunotherapy - CAR T-cell therapy – is gradually introduced into the clinical practice. The patient’s white blood cells are obtained from blood and cultivated in the lab. After their cultivation they can attach to the tumour cells and destroy them. There is a single sampling of white blood cells. Then the number of cells is increased by cultivation, so that they can be administered to the patient many times. The clinical studies of CAR-therapy are ongoing. The technique shows encouraging results in leukaemia patients.
Germany provides leukaemia patients of any age with better medical care than other countries in the world. Consequently, people from all over the world come here to have treatment. Through the use of the cutting-edge therapeutic techniques, many patients can achieve a long-term remission of leukaemia, and with the most favourable outcome - hopefully a complete cure of the disease.
How to go to Germany for treatment?
You can use Booking Health’s platform to choose a suitable hospital specialising in the treatment of leukaemia. Through the use of our services, patients can:
- Choose the hospital offering affordable prices.
- Select a medical institution with the most advanced and highly effective treatments for leukaemia.
- Get health insurance against unforeseen medical expenses, which will be valid within 48 months after the completion of treatment.
- Have an opportunity to consult your doctor within three months after the discharge from the hospital.
- Enjoy these organisational and logitisical services (organisation of treatment, interpreter’s services, translation of medical records, visa application, flight to the country and transfer from the airport to the hospital).
Through an effective diagnostic and treatment process, patients who use our service save up to 70% on medical costs. Please contact us to organise your medical treatment abroad.
Choose treatment abroad and you will for sure get the best results!
Author: Dr. Nadezhda Ivanisova