Cancer screening2021-03-20T12:19:55+01:00

Early cancer detection

Maintain your health and zest for life!

Cancer is a disease that many people are afraid of. It is common and it can affect any of us. Discovered too late, a tumour can mean pain, suffering and even death. However, this also means that if the disease is discovered early, the chances of recovery are very good in most cases.

A responsible approach to one's own health includes regular examinations for the early detection of cancer. Cancer screening not only improves the chances of recovery in the event of an illness, it also offers security and reassurance when everything is in order.

The cancer screening examination should take place once a year.

Information from the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) on the early detection and treatment options for cancer

Early cancer detection: the catalogue of benefits of the health insurance funds

Within the framework of early cancer detection, the statutory health insurance funds have specified the following benefits for an annual examination:

From the age of 20

Targeted anamnesis
(clarification of complaints and previous illnesses)

Gynaecological palpation

Assessment (mirror adjustment) of the cervix

Cell smear from the cervix - 'Pap test' (up to 35 years of age once a year)

Counselling and further clarification

Additional:

From the age of 30

Palpation of the mammary glands and associated lymph nodes

Guidance for self-examination

From the age of 35

Cell smear from the cervix (Pap smear)
Combined with HPV test (every 3 years)

From the age of 50

Palpation of the rectum

Test for occult (non-visible) blood in the stool - if no colonoscopy has been done.
(annually up to the age of 55, thereafter only every 2 years)

50 - 69 years of age

Mammography screening (at the radiologist)

Important note: For the care of patients by SHI-accredited physicians, the medical services should be "sufficient, appropriate and economical". "They must not exceed what is necessary. Services that are not necessary cannot be claimed by insured persons, may not be provided by the service providers and may not be approved by the health insurance funds." (Social Code V. § 12)

Complete cancer screening: Our supplementary programme to the statutory health insurance scheme

Modern medical examination methods - beyond the scope of services provided by the statutory health insurance funds - can significantly increase the safety of the standard examination:

Sonography of the pelvic organs is one of the most important gynaecological examinations for the early detection of cancer. The pelvic ultrasound is performed via the vagina (transvaginally) with the help of a rod-shaped, narrow probe.

With a transvaginal ultrasound, the organs of the small pelvis (e.g. uterus, ovaries) can be better assessed than with an ultrasound examination through the abdominal wall (abdominal ultrasound). This means that changes such as cysts in the ovaries or fibroids in the uterus can be detected, examined and documented at an early stage. In addition, the various tissue parts of the uterus (Myometrium and endometrium) as well as the cervix (Cervix) and the Douglas room can be visualised.

Since early detection of cancer is crucial for the chances of cure, pelvic ultrasound is recommended during regular cancer screening, but is not part of the services provided by statutory health insurance.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Every 10th woman develops a malignant breast tumour in the course of her life.

Mammography as a standard examination

The standard of imaging procedures is still the Mammography (X-ray examination of the breast). In addition there are Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound examinations are also available.

In Baden-Württemberg, comprehensive mammography screening for all women between 50 and 70 years of age has been available for several years. Experts expect that this series of X-ray examinations, to which all women in the aforementioned age group are invited every two years, can reduce breast cancer mortality by a quarter.

Additional safety through ultrasound

The safety of breast cancer screening increases significantly if an ultrasound examination of the female breast (mammary sonography) is also performed once a year. Women before the age of 50 and with dense mammary glands particularly benefit from a sonographic examination. Here, ultrasound is often even superior to mammography.

The guidelines of the statutory health insurance funds for early cancer detection examinations only include palpation of the female breast and the associated lymph nodes from the age of 30.

For all women who would like to have more certainty than just a breast palpation, we recommend complementary sonography of the mammary gland.

The sonographic examination has the following advantages:

  • The mammary gland does not need to be pressed hard.
  • The method is free of radiation exposure.
  • It enables the detection of tumours that escape palpation.
  • Cystic changes in the breast can be better assessed.
  • Early detection improves the chances of cure and enables gentle therapy.
  • The earlier a cancer is detected, the sooner breast-conserving surgery can be performed.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under 50. Cervical carcinoma develops slowly over a period of years. So if you go for regular cancer screening, you have a good chance of detecting malignant cell changes on the cervix at an early stage.

The classic Pap smear

An important examination in the early detection of cancer is the cell smear from the cervix, the so-called Pap test - named after the Greek doctor George Nicolas Papanicolaou. In this test, the cell smear is applied to a slide, stained and examined under the microscope.

Under optimal conditions, this test offers a relatively high degree of certainty. Nevertheless, every year in Germany alone, about 6,500 women develop cervical cancer and 80,000 women develop precancerous lesions. The reasons for this lie in the inadequate preparation of the cell material. Pathologically altered cells are not recognised because they are overlaid by other cells, blood or mucus. False findings are frequent.

More safety through the new thin-layer cytology

Thin-layer cytology was developed to reduce the problems encountered in the conventional Pap test. Here, cells are taken through a smear as in the conventional Pap test, but then placed in a container with preservative solution. Thus, all cells are preserved for evaluation.

The preserved sample is prepared in a special laboratory in several technical processes and cleaned of blood, mucus and inflammatory cells. The cells are then evenly distributed in a thin layer on the slide. Thin-layer cytology is much more informative than the conventional Pap test and is recommended for the early detection of cell changes.

HPV test: smear test for human papillomaviruses

Infection with human papillomaviruses is widespread. Almost everyone becomes infected with HPV in the course of their life. In most cases, this infection heals on its own without any consequences. However, if an infection with certain HP viruses (of the so-called high-risk type) persists, the risk of cell changes increases. Over a period of 10 - 15 years, cervical cancer can develop.

In the context of early cancer detection, the HPV test examines the cell smear from the cervix for human papilloma viruses of the high-risk type. The HPV test only clarifies the presence of the viruses. HP viruses can be detected in every second woman under the age of 35. In 90 per cent of all cases, this infection is completely harmless. Only a fraction of these women actually have cancer.

As part of the early detection of cervical cancer, the HPV test is only carried out from the age of 35 - every three years in combination with a cell smear (Pap test). If HP viruses of the high-risk type are detected, further examinations or shorter examination intervals are necessary.

If an infection with HP viruses is detected, many questions arise. We have put together the most important here the most important answers for you.

Many malignant tumours can be prevented or cured by early detection. This includes colon cancer in particular, which is not uncommon. In Germany, 6 out of every 100 people develop a Colon cancer.

For some years now, we have known that colon cancer is already announced many years before its actual development through preliminary stages, so-called intestinal polyps. These polyps are initially benign tumours of the intestinal wall that only degenerate into malignant bowel cancer at a late stage. Early detection of these preliminary stages can therefore prevent bowel cancer. If bowel cancer is detected at an early stage, the chances of cure are extraordinarily good at over 90%.

Safe early detection through colonoscopy

The safest method of diagnosing bowel cancer in its early forms or even in its preliminary stages is colonoscopy (Colonoscopy). It detects about 99% of colorectal cancers and polyps. Colonoscopy is offered by the statutory health insurers as part of cancer screening for people over 55. You should take advantage of this opportunity!

Immunological stool test at the annual check-up

The statutory health insurance funds cover the costs of an immunological stool test once a year for patients between 50 and 54 years of age, then only every two years. If a colonoscopy was performed, a stool test is only possible again as a statutory health insurance benefit after 10 years. For younger patients and for those who do not want a colonoscopy or would like a check-up outside the routine intervals, we offer the immunological stool test as a self-pay service.

If the stool test detects human haemoglobin - i.e. blood - a colonoscopy should be performed to clarify the source of the bleeding.

We draw up a Blood count and collect all important blood parameters such as Cholesterol, Liver- and kidney values. This provides you with a general check-up that optimally complements cancer screening.

The individual health services (IgeL) are invoiced according to the Scale of fees for doctors (GOÄ) billed privately. If there is a disease or a suspicion of a disease, further necessary measures are covered by the health insurance.

Our blog on the topic

501, 2020

Early cancer detection: New regulations from 2020 onwards

Since 2020, new legal provisions for the early detection of cervical cancer have been in force. The most important change concerns patients from the age of 35 who have statutory health insurance and who are now offered a regular test for human papillomaviruses as part of cancer screening. The HPV test is carried out with the conventional cytological smear from the [read more...]

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