How to Find a Good Oncologist

Oncology - cancer specialists in Germany & Switzerland

What is oncology

Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with cancer. The word origin comes from the Greek: onkos for tumor or volume and logos for science. The word tumor simply means a mass that can also be caused by cysts or water retention.

Cancer means the malignant, so-called malignant degeneration of cells. Cells change their natural properties through changes in their DNA. Malignant cells no longer adhere to the cell group boundaries or the body's own growth signals, but grow randomly, do not develop to the end stage and spread to other parts of the body. The words tumor and cancer are often used as synonyms in everyday clinical practice.

What does an oncologist do?

The main components of this specialty are the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of cancer. Oncology cannot be defined as a separate subject, but requires interdisciplinary cooperation.

Cancer screening

Prevention is divided into two areas: minimizing risk factors and early detection. The primary care physician is responsible for this. This 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 detection is about identifying and treating malignant abnormalities as early as possible, as this significantly improves the prognosis. If necessary, the family doctor can issue a referral to a specialist for the respective organ or clinic, where more precise preventive measures are taken.

Specialists in gynecology, gastroenterology, dermatology and urology are also involved in direct cancer prevention and detection. Preventive gynecological examinations can be used by every woman from the age of 20 as a health insurance benefit. This includes:

  • Measurement of blood pressure
  • Examination of the labia, vagina, cervix
  • A smear is taken from the cervix and the cervical canal with subsequent microscopic examination of the cells
  • Palpation of the uterus and ovaries

In addition, the gynecologist can advise on a vaccination against the dangerous forms of the human papilloma virus (HPV). The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) of the Robert Koch Institute recommends this vaccination for all girls between the ages of 9 and 14, as this increases the risk for cervical cancer is decreased.

From the age of 50, everyone with statutory health insurance can have their stool examined annually. In the stool test, possible amounts of blood are detected that are not visible to the naked eye and can indicate changes in the intestinal mucosa. From the age of 55 you can have one Colonoscopy, also called a colonoscopy at the gastroenterology specialist: The intestine is viewed from the inside with an endoscope and possible abnormalities such as polyps can be removed directly.

From the age of 45, men can take advantage of the statutory health insurance services for screening, which is intended to detect cancer in the external genitalia and prostate. The so-called PSA test, which measures the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), is currently not part of the statutory early cancer detection system. PSA is an enzyme that can be measured in small amounts in the blood. In certain diseases, including prostate cancer, the concentration of PSA increases significantly. However, this increase is not specific for cancer and prostate cancer cannot be completely ruled out even with normal PSA levels.

From the age of 35, you are entitled to a skin cancer screening every two years. Here the whole body is examined for abnormalities. There Skin cancer occurs especially in areas with increased exposure to the sun, the scalp and the skin on the face, neck and neck are examined particularly carefully.

Cancer diagnostics

Imaging techniques are the first to be used to diagnose cancer. With modern devices, body regions or even the entire body can be displayed in detail in a short time and the smallest changes made clearly visible. Imaging techniques include:

  • Ultrasonic
  • CT and MRI
  • Scintigraphy, SPECT and PET

In order to subsequently confirm the suspicion of a change, tissue samples are taken, if possible, and presented to the pathologist. This categorizes the suspicious material according to different scales:

  • Type of fabric
  • Size of the tumor
  • Malignancy of the tumor
  • The histological nature of the tumor

On the basis of this information, a prognosis for the outcome of the tumor disease can be determined, which, together with the pathological criteria, is decisive for the appropriate therapy.

The treatment of oncological diseases can be carried out in the hospital or in outpatient facilities. This is decided by the overall condition, the exact illness and also preferences of the patient.

Follow-up care is organized by the resident doctor and the medical facility that carried out the therapy. In addition, there is a statutory obligation to follow-up care for all patients after radiotherapy. After breast cancer therapy, patients are checked by both the operating surgeon, the resident gynecologist and the radiation oncologist.

Cancer therapy

Specialists in hematology and oncology as well as specialists in radiation oncology deal mainly with the diagnosis and treatment of malignant diseases. The most common malignancies 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 malignancies in men are (in descending order of frequency):

  • Prostate cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Stomach cancer

The following therapy options are available:

  • chemotherapy
  • Allogeneic or autologous stem cell transplant
  • Antibody therapy
  • Dendritic cell therapy

Radiation oncology specialists treat cancer by irradiating the affected areas with photons or Protons . Cancer treatment with heat (hyperthermia therapy) also falls under the field of radiation therapy. In addition, they prevent new cancer, so-called recurrences, by irradiating former tumor areas. For example, it is now a guideline to surgically remove the tumor in patients with breast cancer and then to irradiate the affected breast area. One can differentiate between:

  • Curative: With the intention of healing
  • Palliative: Relief of symptoms, e.g. pain in the case of bone metastases
  • Adjuvant: After surgery to secure results
  • Neoadjuvant: Before surgery to reduce the size of 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, which bind very specifically to the desired body structure, e.g. labeled iodine is only absorbed in the thyroid. To treat tumors, substances are administered that emit alpha or beta radiation. These types of radiation only have a penetration depth of a few millimeters, so that their effect is developed locally at the point where the substance is enriched. The radiation causes damage to the DNA and other structures of the tumor cell, causing it to perish (necrosis).

Which cancer centers are there?

The German Cancer Society certifies medical facilities on three levels. So-called “Organ Cancer Centers” have been certified at the third level and since 2003, “Oncological Centers” at the second level and “Top Oncological Centers” at the first level. The independent OnkoZert institute is responsible for the entire certification system. A number of requirements must be met for these certificates. These include, among other things, that:

  • there is an interdisciplinary oncology for all tumor diseases.
  • weekly interdisciplinary meetings, so-called "tumor boards", are set up.
  • Guidelines for the treatment of cancer patients through clinical trials are developed and implemented.
  • the classification of the tumors is based on the international classification (TMN).
  • Research programs for basic research and its clinical application are developed.
  • the patients receive psychological and palliative care.
  • Cancer self-help organizations are involved.
  • the center is networked with resident doctors and hospitals in the area.
  • the quality is recorded and published annually in so-called benchmarking reports.
  • Since summer 2006 it has been possible for foreign cancer centers to be certified by the German Cancer Society as a “European Cancer Center”. Applicants for this certificate must meet similar criteria as listed above.

Which doctors and clinics are specialists in oncology?

Anyone who needs a doctor wants the best medical care for themselves. This is why the patient asks himself, where can I find the best oncology clinic for me? Since this question cannot be answered objectively and a serious doctor would never claim that he is the best doctor, one can only rely on the experience of a doctor.

Cancer specialists include specialists in hematology and oncology, radiation oncology and nuclear medicine. Specialists in hematology and oncology deal with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. They specialize primarily in the degeneration of organs and the blood system. Various forms of imaging are used for diagnosis and are evaluated in consultation with doctors in radiology and nuclear medicine.

We help you to find an expert for your illness. All doctors and clinics listed have been checked by us for their outstanding specialization in oncology and await your inquiry or your treatment request.

Where can I find an experienced oncologist?

At PRIMO MEDICO you will only find experienced specialists and clinics for oncology in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We currently have recognized experts in the following cities:

Specialists in oncology in Germany: