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HomeGerman HealthcareEarly detection tests in Germany: Colonoscopy / Gastrointestinal

Early detection tests in Germany: Colonoscopy / Gastrointestinal

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Bowel cancer is the second most common type of cancer and the second most common cause of death from cancer in Germany, in both men and women. That is the reason screening colonoscopy has been offered in Germany since the end of 2002.

In Germany, colonoscopy like all other health issue is taken very seriously. Colon cancer develops from polyps, which are small growths of tissue along the lower digestive tract. During a colonoscopy, polyps can be identified, removed and tested to determine if they are cancerous or not.

Large colonoscopy (colonoscopy) to detect colon cancer and its precursors

Who / When

Women over 55 and men over 50, twice at an interval of ten years

Examination

The colonoscopy examines the entire large intestine. Before the examination, the patient must drink laxatives and the intestines must be free of food and stool residues. Then the doctor inserts a colonoscope from the anus: a flexible tube about the size of a finger. At its end there is a light source and a camera. 

The images are transferred to a screen. If there are any suspicious changes, the doctor will take tissue samples (again with the help of a colonoscope). Larger polyps can be removed with an electric snare.

Is it useful? 

A colonoscopy is believed to be the best way to examine the colon for any suspicious changes.

What are the costs?

Colonoscopy has been offered free of charge for early diagnosis since 2002. The statutory health insurance companies cover the costs.

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Breath test for the detection of Helicobacter pylori infections (C13 breath test)

Who / When

Women and men with symptoms such as stomach pressure, gas, heartburn or frequent diarrhea

Examination

The fasted patient exhales deeply into a bag, drinks a special juice and breathes into the bag again. The breath sample is examined in the laboratory for hydrocarbons, a metabolic product of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria (Hp bacteria).

Is it useful? 

Chronic Hp infection is considered to be a risk for stomach and colon cancer. However, it has not yet been proven that the breath test method is suitable for routine cancer screening. In Germany around 33 million people are infected with the bacterium and 10-20 percent of them develop a stomach ulcer as a result. If Helicobacter pylori is detected, medical treatment should definitely be given.

What are the costs?

The health insurance companies only pay for the breath test as a check after an HP treatment or as an initial diagnosis in children with abdominal pain and suspected Helicobacter pylori infection as the cause. If you want to have the test done privately, you should ask in advance about the costs, which vary greatly depending on the laboratory and its procedure, between 25 and 130 euros.

Colon cancer early detection by means of stool examination iFOBT

Who / When

Women and men aged 50 and over, once a year up to 55 years of age. Thereafter every two years if no early detection colonoscopy was used. If the results are conspicuous, however, there is a right to a diagnostic colonoscopy.

Examination

In the so-called immunological stool test (iFOBT), the patient is given a test set to take home. There he or she takes a stool sample himself by putting a small amount of stool on the test letter. The sample comes in the tube from the set and should be given to the doctor’s office within the following day. In the laboratory, the sample is examined for blood residues caused by tumors and their precursors.

Is it useful? 

The detection of hidden blood in the stool is one of the best tried and tested methods of early detection. It is simple and has been shown to reduce mortality if the bowel is then mirrored after a positive result. The iFOBT process, which has been available since April 2017, is also less susceptible to interference because it reacts directly to antibodies in human blood.

What are the costs

The test is included in the program for early cancer detection of the statutory health insurance companies. Men and women between 50 and 55 years of age are entitled. From the age of 55 you can choose: either a stool test every two years or a colonoscopy twice every ten years.

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