(Vienna, 09 April 2018) What treatments are there for cancer? How do they work and how will my body react to them? How will the treatment affect my job or my relationship? Questions like these exercise those who have had a cancer diagnosis. Often they still have unanswered questions after the consultation with their doctor. If the treatment is to be successful, it is important that patients are well informed and can play an active role in their own treatment: the better informed they are, the better the treatment outcome and the better their quality of life. The Cancer School run by the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) of MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital provides patients and their relatives with all the necessary information free of charge. The new lecture series starts on 18 April 2018 in the Lecture Hall A (Hörsaal A) "im Südgarten" in Vienna General Hospital.
Anna Berghoff, doctor at the Division of Oncology, MedUni Vienna/Vienna General Hospital, and member of the management committee of the Cancer School CCC Vienna, never tires of pointing out the importance of ensuring that cancer patients are well-informed about their disease, their treatment options and the assistance available from health and social services. She knows from experience that patients who are able to manage themselves and their condition have a better treatment outcome and enjoy much better quality of life.
Precision medicine: no two tumours are alike
An example might be the management of side-effects: these can differ a great deal and occur irrespective of the method of treatment. It is crucial that patients are able to identify them and take prompt action. Berghoff illustrates this by outlining the difference between chemotherapy and so-called targeted therapy or precision medicine: while chemotherapy acts on all cells in the body, targeted medicine is like a "sharpshooter", targeting only certain, pre-identified weak points in the tumour. Says Berghoff, "Just as no two patients are alike, similarly no two tumours are alike. Before starting treatment we conduct complex analyses to determine the correct treatment for the person in front of us. In many cases it is possible to identify a specific therapeutic target, which often means an excellent outcome."
Nevertheless, even targeted treatment can have side-effects, which can usually be well controlled. However, it is crucial that patients are well informed about them and are able to quickly identify situations that could be risky for them.
Good self-management – better quality of life
Here Berghoff gives the example of a treatment that inhibits the formation of blood vessels and hence blocks the blood supply to the tumour. However, because it also promotes high blood pressure, it is beneficial for patients to measure their own blood pressure regularly and notify their doctor immediately if it becomes too high. Says Berghoff: "It is important for patients to go to their doctor early on and speak honestly about their situation. Only then can we work as a team to successfully combat the disease."
Cancer knowledge for all
So that as many cancer patients as possible can be accurately informed about the disease, Cancer School CCC Vienna is starting its programme again on 18 April. Experts from MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital will present even the most complex of topics in a simple and easy-to-understand way and discuss them with the participants.
Commencing on 18 April 2018, the Cancer School will be held on eight Wednesday afternoons in the Lecture Hall A (Hörsaal A) in "Kliniken am Südgarten" in Vienna General Hospital (AKH Wien). Attendance is free but you must register. The programme can be found at: www.cancerschool.at. Registration: www.cancerschool.at or by telephone in the mornings on 01/ 40 400 – 39 400
Center for Precision Medicine
Precision medicine is not only a promising therapeutic approach in the field of oncology.
In order to push forward this area of research, the Medical University of Vienna is planning to build the Center for Precision Medicine on the Vienna General Hospital MedUni Campus from 2022 onwards. The Center is being financed by sponsors and private donors. In order to achieve this goal, MedUni Vienna has started various fundraising activities to raise awareness of precision medicine and also to generate a flow of donations to fund the planned centre. For information & to donate: www.zpm.at.