Helios University Hospital Wuppertal: Treatment of lung cancer under one roof
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Helios University Hospital Wuppertal: Treatment of lung cancer under one roof

The first DKG-certified lung cancer center in Wuppertal and the Bergisches Land region has once again proven itself in the independent quality review. The German Cancer Society certifies the highest quality for the Lung Cancer Center at Helios University Hospital Wuppertal (HUKW).

"If lung cancer is detected at an early stage, there is a possibility of cure and complete recovery," 

explains Prof. Dr. med. Kurt Rasche, Chief Physician of the Clinic for Pneumology, Allergology, Sleep and Respiratory Medicine at HUKW and Head of the Lung Cancer Center there. He says it is important to carry out comprehensive diagnostics that give the treating physicians certainty as to which parts of the lung are affected and how far the disease has progressed. For this purpose, among other things, a lung function test is carried out to see whether there will still be sufficient lung capacity after an operation, so that the quality of life of our patients is not restricted.

"The diagnostic procedure also includes bronchoscopy ("lung endoscopy"), which makes tissue sampling possible. Bronchoscopy is supplemented by endoscopic examination with an ultrasound probe (EBUS), which can also be used to take tissue samples from lymph nodes in the chest. In the past, a surgical procedure was required for this. Even before bronchoscopy, we require computed tomography of the organs in the chest. Patients who undergo surgery also often receive a PET-CT before the operation, which also shows possible metastases. This is used to check whether lymph nodes or other organs may have been affected," Rasche explains the individual steps. "All examinations and treatment, whether conservative or surgical, can take place at our lung cancer center in Wuppertal-Barmen. This is a great advantage for our patients, especially those from Wuppertal and the Bergisches Land region. In many clinics, not all specialties are united under one roof as they are with us. Unfortunately, this often leads to a considerable burden for both patients and their relatives in terms of the distances they have to travel.

The operations are performed by Dr. med. Christian Biancosino and his team from the Clinic for Thoracic Surgery. 

"We are very happy that we can use all the medical possibilities of the maximum care hospital and a university hospital here at the hospital, which give us the opportunity to treat the patients with optimal surgery. A large part of the operations, especially the earlier stages almost exclusively, we perform minimally invasive, i.e. through only one small access. This form of surgery is particularly gentle. Postoperative recovery is naturally accelerated because the tiny wounds heal more quickly. We use this surgical method wherever it is the best option. If the size or location of the tumor requires it, all advanced operations, such as under "artificial lung support" (ECMO) can also be performed here during surgery or in collaboration with other specialist disciplines."

In the course of certification, the entire infrastructure involved in the treatment of lung cancer patients at Helios University Hospital Wuppertal has been put to the test in recent months. "On behalf of the German Cancer Society, the testing institute looks at medical content in the areas of diagnostics, therapy and aftercare," explains Dr. Biancosino. Part of the certification process was also a visit by a team of experts who intensively screened the lung cancer center.

For the patient, certification by the cancer society and the associated proof of a certain number of cases, as well as structural and process quality, is a clear indicator of good medical quality - this is currently also repeatedly emphasized by the health insurance companies.

In the end, the structures lived in the Lung Cancer Center bring significant benefits for the patient. One example: In a certified center, it is ensured that each patient's situation is discussed in the tumor conference. Here, lung specialists regularly sit down with oncologists, radiation therapists and radiologists, among others, in order to coordinate the optimal, individually adapted therapy for everyone according to the latest medical knowledge. "This interdisciplinary tumor conference is the quality assurance authority par excellence," says senior physician Ahmad Nazzal, who as coordinator of the Lung Cancer Center brings together all the necessary specialties. "Added to this are the new possibilities offered by our pathology department, which uses gene sequencing to perform a particularly comprehensive examination of tumor tissue. This enables us to create the prerequisites for using modern treatment methods such as personalized chemotherapy. For some patients, this means significantly optimized treatment that can significantly improve quality of life and life expectancy," says Nazzal.

Today, every cancer treatment also includes psychological care for patients on request. With a total of six psychooncologists at the hospital, everyone can reflect on their personal life situation and learn how to deal with the disease in a better and more positive way. By the way, this also includes the relatives, because a cancer disease is always a stroke of fate for the entire family.

"We are delighted about the renewed certification of the Lung Cancer Center at our hospital, because this also means that our efforts to provide high quality treatment are appreciated. DKG certification is the highest award that can be achieved,"

adds Prof. Patrick Haage, Medical Director and Director of the Center for Radiology.

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