Oncology (from the Greek. Onkos – mass build-up, swelling and Logos – teaching science) – the science that studies the causes, pathogenesis, clinical course of tumors and develops methods for treatment and prevention. Development of Oncology is closely linked with the success of biology (especially of Cytology and Genetics), chemistry (eg, biochemistry), medical theory (pathology) and clinical specialties (surgery, radiology, gynecology, etc..). Oncolaogy became an independent biomedical discipline only in the 20th century, although tumors of humanity were known in ancient times.
Till recently, Cancer diagnosis sounded like a death sentence. Today, oncology allows to cure many tumors. Early diagnosis is very important – the faster a tumor is revealed and a treatment is started – the better are the results. Swiss hospitals have a very strong diagnostic base. Cancer screening in Switzerland reveals the cancer at an early stage. The clinics use modern diagnostic methods such as: Ultrasound, X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging, laparoscopy, biopsy, modern laboratory techniques, PET / CT scan.
Cancer treatment abroad has a clear advantage, as oncologists diagnose and treat the disease with the same care. Cancer screening in Switzerland is not only a timely diagnosis, it is the ability to start the treatment and the prevention as quickly as possible.
Cancer and Chemotherapy
Cancer or cancer cells develop in the organism due to mutation or set of mutations that leads to uncontrolled and indiscriminate increase in the number of cells and further dissemination (metastasis).
Mutations are often due to the accumulation of toxins (tobacco, alcohol, chemical products), radiation, infection (bacteria, viruses), as well as more rarely hereditary factor.
Anticancer chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, blocking cell division, leading to their dying. Chemotherapy does not distinguish healthy cells from cancer, this explains the presence of the majority of the side effects of this treatment. The first types of chemotherapy appeared in the period from 1945 to 1950, for the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma. However, a significant progress in the field of chemotherapy medicine was made only in the seventies with the discovery of cisplatin derivatives.
Progress narrowly focused therapy
During the last decade, there has been some notable progress in the treatment of cancer. It is associated with the appearance of a narrow focus of therapy, which is often very effective and much less toxic to healthy cells. For example, it may be Glivec® in the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumors, Tarceva® in treating lung cancer, as well as Herceptine® – antibodies that are active on the protein HER-2 which is present in approximately 25% of breast cancer cases.
These drugs have radically changed the outlook for the development of tumors, significantly increasing the efficiency of the treatment and survival of patients. Avastine® -a blocking angiogenesis medicament is used for the treatment of metastatic cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. Acting at the level of proliferation of blood vessels, it stifles the tumor, increasing the likelihood of tumor remission when combining this treatment with classical chemotherapy.
Cancer treatment with curative intent and palliative treatment
Doctor-oncologist is confronted to two very different roles – the role of the doctor and the role of a human being. It’s one thing when the tumor is diagnosed at an early stage and there is an effective treatment, and another thing, when the tumor is detected at a late stage with metastases, when there is only palliative treatment (with a few exceptions, such as testicular cancer or Hodgkin’s disease).
It is worth to note that today, the age of the patient is no longer a limiting factor for the use of an anti-cancer treatment and palliative care. Their use is clearly observed in elderly patients without comorbidities.