Politicians of any country are often broadcasting about huge success achieved by domestic healthcare system. We can hear from the TV screens how life expectancy rises rapidly, how advanced clinics save patients with the most dangerous diseases. Meanwhile, have you seen at least somebody from the state’s officialsgetting treatment at home, in a country with the low level of healthcare?
Everyone who has enough means to do that go for treatment abroad, right after some serious illness like oncology gets them. The questionis why?
Contrast between cancer treatment in developed and developing states
Even the loudest slogans cannot prevail over dry, silent, but such convincing figures. These are disappointing: a third of the patients die within the first year in developing countries after diagnosed with cancer. Another third dies within the following year. Only few get a chance to cure completely and live a long life. Those are happy to be lucky to find a tumor at the early stage.
"Cancer" sounds like a death sentence in the developing countries. However, people live for decades with cancer in the prosperous states and Europe is among them. For instance, a patient suffering from mammary gland cancer with metastases lives more than 10 years on average in Germany. Patients with same diagnosis live about 2 years in the developing countries.
Oncology disadvantages in developing states
A person has minimum chances to live a long and happy life in the countries with low level of healthcare if he or she was diagnosed with cancer. Why is that so? Here are basic cons of low-budget oncology:
Low technological equipment. One of the effective techniques towards the tumor is radiation therapy. But, it is prescribed only to 30% of patients in the developing states. Problem is that hospitals just don’t have any equipment to do the high-tech radiation therapy able to destroy cancer and not the healthy tissues.
At the same time, in the Western world they actively use:
- Intraoperative contact radiation therapy
- Intensively modulated radiation therapy
- Selective radiotherapy
While in developing countries only a small number of medical institutions use a gamma-knife or a cyber-knife to treat central nervous system tumors, in Europe these methods have ceased to be considered innovative. German hospitals are actively implementing proton therapy which is a more acute and safer technique, but it is also more expensive. That’s why, for the most countriesit is an inaccessibleway to remove tumors.
Poor quality of diagnostics. Detection of the tumor at the early stages allows curing cancer completely. Besides, high-precision research methods can detect all tumor sites for their effective removal if a widespread oncologic process is present in the body.
However, diagnostics is also a great issue in the developing countries. There are almost no any high-precision techniques. Even MRIs are very rare in some countries. Positron emission tomography is not even worth talking about it as the majority of patients don’t have access to it. A number of high-precision techniques are not used in some countries at all.
Inaccessibility of innovative treatment methods. New medicines, new procedures, new approaches to cancer treatment are being developed in the prosperous countries. It takes a long time for these means to come to other states.Oncology of the developing countries lags behind the Western one for 10-20 years. In Germany they use methods of cancer treatment which are not even known in the rest of the world. We don’t even mention their practical use.
Failure to follow protocols. Many drugs invented in Germany are also registered in other countries. They are included into the medical care provision protocols for the patients with oncologic pathologies. These protocols are often same as European ones. The problem is that German recommendations of the Ministry of Health are observed in Germany, while in the developing countries they are not.
A doctor in Germany treats patient as it is indicated in the protocol. Only in this case he is protected if something goes wrong as the treatment schemes are going to be checked by the inspection. If a doctor followed recommendations, he is good. But he will be disciplined if he did what he wanted.
No one punishes medical stuff in the developing countries. Nobody takes away doctors’ licenses; nobody pays fine and gets fired from their job. One of the reasons why most of the specialists don’t use the recommendations is that each doctor treats in his own way. Whether a particular patient will be lucky or not, is not known. Suchtreatmentresembles‘Russianroulette’.
The use of generics. In countries with low incomes, the choice of medicines is largely determined by their cost. Therefore, generics as more affordable analogs of original antitumor drugs are used. However, not always similar drugs have a similar effectiveness. Often the results of chemotherapy are worse than expected. According to statistics, modern cancer drugs are only available to 25% of patients.
Why is it better to treat cancer abroad?
Obviously, it is better to treat cancer abroad if healthcare system in your country is poor. Key benefits of the Western healthcare are:
- Availability of the qualitative diagnostics
- Availability of the latest treatment methods and modern medicines
- Use of the latest achievements in surgery which allows operations with minimal tissues damage and low risk of complications
In European hospitals patient receives not only the effective but also comfortable treatment as much as it’s possible. They apply up-to-date anesthesia methods. When prescribing drugs or radiotherapy, doctor considers not only result of the treatment, but also considers treatment tolerability.
Cancer treatment in Europe gives person a good chance for a long life. Often, it is possible to achieve complete elimination of cancer. That's why 25% of patients who treat cancer in German hospitals are medical tourists from around the world.
Choose treatment abroad and you will for sure get the best results!
Author: Dr. Nadezhda Ivanisova