For most women with breast cancer, chemotherapy is an important part of treatment. It can be administered both before surgery and after surgery. Many patients undergo medical treatment in Germany to get the best results with the lowest risk of complications and side effects. Special methods for breast cancer diagnosis making allow choosing the perfect combination of drugs that will provide the best clinical effect in each woman.
Indications for chemotherapy
In German clinics, chemotherapy in the treatment of breast cancer is administered in the following cases.
After surgery, as the most common option. Cancer cells that have not been removed by the doctor may remain in the breast area after surgery. They can be a source of breast cancer recurrence. To reduce such a risk, the woman undergoes chemotherapy. This treatment option is called the adjuvant chemotherapy.
Before surgery. At the advanced stages of the disease, breast cancer treatment can start with chemotherapy. Sometimes the tumor is too large to be removed immediately. Chemotherapy reduces its size. It also suppresses activity of lymph node metastases of breast cancer. After tumor shrinkage, breast surgery is performed. Such mode of chemotherapy is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Without surgery. Chemotherapy may be the independent treatment option when the operation is contraindicated, or the woman refuses it, as well as at the advanced stages of breast cancer. If distant metastases are detected, surgery and radiation therapy can no longer cure the disease completely. In this case, doctors can control breast cancer for a while with chemotherapy. Duration of the treatment will depend on its tolerance and effect.
How long does the chemotherapy course take?
For most women, the total duration of the chemotherapy course is from 3 to 6 months.
The duration of breast cancer drug treatment does not depend on whether chemotherapy is prescribed before or after surgery. Most women receive drugs only after surgery. For other patients, chemotherapy starts before surgery and ends after surgery. If the entire course of chemotherapy was performed before the operation, then further use of chemotherapy is no longer required.
Chemotherapy is not performed simultaneously with radiation therapy. If a woman needs radiation therapy, then it is carried out no earlier than in 3-4 weeks after completing the course of cancer treatment with chemotherapy.
In many cases, the effect of drug treatment can be enhanced with biological (immunological) and hormonal therapy. Such treatment courses take a long time and can be prescribed simultaneously with chemotherapy.
For some women, including those with metastatic breast cancer, chemotherapy is becoming the main treatment option. In this case, it can have a different duration. Duration of receiving drugs will depend on whether the desired effect is achieved from them, whether the therapy is well tolerated and is not associated with serious complications.
Chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer
Sometimes women with advanced breast cancer undergo treatment in Germany. Despite the severity of health condition, they can also expect a good effect of therapy, as the properly selected combination of drugs can increase the duration of an active life by several years.
In metastatic breast cancer, the advantage of systemic therapies is that they affect the entire body. Accordingly, the growth of both the primary tumor and metastases is suppressed, including very small metastases that were not detected during the instrumental diagnostics.
In some cases the woman stops responding to the standard chemotherapy regimen, so doctors adjust it by using other drugs. In some clinics, a dose-dense chemotherapy scheme is used with a decrease in the intervals between drugs administration. The method causes more side effects of chemotherapy, but the same time increases the relapse-free period and reduces cancer mortality.
Chemotherapy usually causes side effects, including hair loss, mouth ulcers, and worsening of the skin and nails condition. Many women complain of nausea, diarrhea, decreased appetite and weight loss.
Chemotherapy can cause complications associated with suppression of red bone marrow function. It produces fewer blood cells. As a result, anemia develops, immunity decreases, and bruises appear on the skin.
Chemotherapy also affects women's fertility. Some women experience premature menopause. The older the patient, the higher the risk of climacteric changes. If you want to become pregnant and have a baby in the future, it is better to freeze the eggs before the chemotherapy starts.
Young women need reliable contraception during the treatment. Even without menstruation, they can become pregnant. In case of pregnancy, the fetus may die or have severe malformations due to the effects of chemotherapy. You cannot use birth control pills for contraception in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, so you should discuss with your doctor other options of preventing unintended pregnancy.
Many women with breast cancer also undergo targeted therapy. It increases the risk of cardiac complications and can raise blood pressure. If you undergo treatment in Germany, doctors will do the necessary tests to see if your heart can tolerate breast cancer medications.
Why is it better to undergo chemotherapy in Germany
Chemotherapy in Germany is carried out according to the latest schemes with original drugs, and is effectively combined with other methods of treating breast cancer. Several reasons to undergo chemotherapy in Germany are as follows.
1. Individual selection of the treatment scheme. Even before the start of treatment, chemotherapy in Germany is selected individually for each woman, based on the stage of cancer, histological and molecular type of tumor. Special methods for breast cancer diagnosis making (Oncotype DX, MammaPrint, Prosigna) help determine which drugs the tumor will be sensitive to and which drugs will not provide the required clinical effect.
2. Original drugs. Despite having a higher price, they have a stable and predictable result. Clinical trials are carried out only with the use of original drugs. That is why chemotherapy in Germany involves the use of original drugs, not their cheaper analogs.
3. Good treatment tolerance. While undergoing chemotherapy in Germany, you will simultaneously receive symptomatic therapy aimed at relieving side effects. This makes it easier to tolerate harmful to body drugs and feel better during the treatment course.
4. Low risk of complications. During cancer treatment in Germany, doctors constantly monitor your health condition using diagnostic methods and laboratory tests. In case of severe deficiency of blood cells, specialists perform blood transfusion. When there is a threat of infection, antibiotics are prescribed.
5. Combined treatment schemes. If you are undergoing chemotherapy in Germany, you can use this breast cancer treatment as a part of combination therapy. German hospitals also use surgery, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, hormone therapy, and some clinics also use immunotherapy for the advanced stages of breast cancer.
6. Adjustment of treatment scheme. Typically, drug treatment for cancer in Germany is carried out according to standard international protocols. In some cases, the doses of drugs or the regimen of their administration can be changed. With poor tolerance to chemotherapy, presence of severe side effects and complications, the dosage of drugs is reduced. At advanced stages of cancer, treatment in Germany can be carried out using dose-dense chemotherapy. Doctors shorten the intervals between drug injections to receive a more pronounced effect.
7. Affordable prices. Chemotherapy in Germany may be more expensive than in your native country. Nevertheless, given the level of German medicine, the ratio of quality and cost of treatment here is one of the best in the world.
In which hospital is it better to undergo treatment in Germany?
For cancer treatment in Germany, you can choose the appropriate hospital using the Booking Health service. You can sort hospitals by patient reviews, rating, or next available appointment date. Here are some hospitals where you can get treatment in Germany.
University Hospital Tuebingen. It is considered one of the best hospitals for breast cancer treatment in Germany. The therapy is performed in the Department of Adult and Pediatric Gynecology, Mammology and Obstetrics. The clinic is certified by the German Cancer Society.
University Hospital Ulm. Many foreign patients visit this hospital to undergo cancer treatment in Germany with Wolfgang Janni, M.D. He is considered one of the best German doctors for the treatment of breast cancer and tumors of the female reproductive organs.
University Hospital Frankfurt am Main. According to the Focus magazine, it is ranked among the best hospitals for the treatment of breast cancer in Germany. The department in which the therapy takes place is certified by the German Cancer Society and has a DIN EN ISO 9001:2008 certificate.
Treatment in Germany with Booking Health
For undergoing breast cancer treatment in Germany, you may use the Booking Health service. On the Booking Health portal you can find information about the leading German hospitals, doctors, and costs for treatment in Germany. In addition, you can compare the cost of treatment in Germany in different hospitals and book a medical program at the best price. Booking Health will arrange a trip to Germany for treatment. Services and benefits of the company include:
- Choice of a hospital for cancer treatment in Germany, whose doctors are considered the best specialists in the therapy of breast tumors
- Direct communication with the selected physician
- Reducing waiting time for cancer treatment in Germany and making an appointment at a convenient date
- Reducing the cost of treatment in Germany; prices are lower due to the exclusion of coefficients for foreign patients
- Reliable information about your expenses, the cost of treatment and individual medical procedures, funds remaining in the account
- Elaboration of a chemotherapy program in Germany without the need to repeat previous examination
- Communication with the hospital after breast cancer treatment in Germany
- Purchase and shipping of drugs
- Organization of additional diagnostics or treatment in Germany
Booking Health specialists provide high-quality service. We will book a hotel and airline tickets for you, organize a transfer from the airport to the hospital and back.