10 ISSUES - SAYING WHAT REALLY MATTERS

Every year, around half a million people in Germany get a first diagnosis of cancer, and around half of them die. FAR TOO MANY, say the experts who fight daily to save lives with new treatments. These treatments often come too late and reach too few patients. There is also much work to be done in prevention and early detection. Here, 10 experts, working closely with affected patients, list 10 justified demands/concepts for what needs to change quickly.

The experts start with the following thesis/demand: They call on lawmakers to collect a “prevention euro” from every pack of cigarettes as soon as possible, taking the price of the standard pack from 7 to 8 euros (as a comparison: in the UK, the same pack of cigarettes costs 5 euros more). This additional euro, which would generate a billion euros in a few short years, would flow directly into a “prevention fund” that would need to be set up and that would finance the following 10 prevention suggestions and concepts.

Here are the concrete strategies/measures that should be taken for each of the individual issues whenever 100 million euros (per issue) are available:

1 / EARLY INFORMATION

Health prevention should be a topic in schools across the country and should become a fixture of the curriculum. The dangers of smoking and the protection afforded by vaccines (especially HPV) should be major focus points.

2 / NUTRITION

Information about the importance of healthy nutrition should be continuously provided: at school, in apprenticeships, through health insurance companies, in pharmacies, in doctors’ practices and in the media. The risks of alcohol and excessive sugar and fat consumption must become even clearer for the citizens!

3 / PREVENTION

Better results can be achieved through effective incentives. Smoking is demonstrably one of the major causes of cancer and should therefore be consistently curtailed; advertising for tobacco should be banned. Tobacco taxes should be adapted or increased. Additionally, more people should - in coordination with their doctor - be encouraged to take preventive vaccines, such as HPV against cervical, mouth and throat cancer. Improved bonus systems that create incentives to move more should also be considered. All prevention programmes should be optimised through regular evaluations.

4 / EARLY DETECTION

GPs must provide more information on early detection; regular questioning about cancer cases in the family must become obligatory. Successful concepts from abroad, like the invitation to colon cancer screening, should be adopted (in the Netherlands, more than 70% of those invited go to the screening, in Germany probably just a fraction).

5 / DIAGNOSTICS

Compared to other European countries, there is room for improvement in the rate of innovative, precise diagnostics, particularly broad molecular testing. Funds are needed for the quick expansion of country-wide networks for molecular diagnostics and their implementation. This is a precondition for the individualised, tailored treatment concepts that directly benefit the patients. The key here is close collaboration between research institutes, university clinics, qualified hospitals, and practices focusing on oncology.

6 / TREATMENT

The goal must be: higher survival rates and better quality of life! To achieve this, the path of new treatments for all cancers from research to clinical practice and so to the patient must be faster. (See also “Neben der Primärprävention haben Arzneimittel das größte Potenzial, die Krebsmortalität zu senken" - “Besides primary prevention, drugs have the highest cancer mortality-reducing potential” -, an article in the Publications rubric.

7 / DIGITALISATION

All patients have the right to their data! It must be ensured that GPs, specialists and clinics enter the comprehensive patient data in an organised form and in a timely and automated manner into a digital patient file in order to optimise care. At the same time, scientific evaluations of the anonymised data would contribute to providing better care to cancer patients in the future.

8 / PATIENT COMPETENCE

Patients and their self-help organisations must be better included in the process! Doctors should view affected persons as equal partners in the treatment. Having one’s personal wishes included is an important basis for the success of a treatment. Patients’ confidence and competence must be sustainably strengthened.

9 / PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC CARE OF CANCER PATIENTS AND THEIR RELATIVES

We need more, and better-qualified, carers to ensure the care of cancer patients and their relatives across the territory. Psychological aspects are a major factor of our being and our health.

10 / NURSING AND REHABILITATION

The role of nursing in cancer treatment has developed very positively in recent years from a subject and content perspective. Structurally, more jobs should be added to the nursing offering. The further education programmes for oncology nurses and the expansion of academic nursing degree programmes mean that today, graduates are integrated on many levels and with a high degree of responsibility in the daily treatment and care setting. For people with cancer, they are a reliable and knowledgeable support. Political support and the further development of specialised nursing guarantee, through expert oncology nurses, improvements for patients and their relatives in overcoming daily routines and communication even in difficult cases, especially in chronic cases.

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