Prague, 23 February 2010. In the year 2009, oncologists in the Czech Republic were able to treat their patients at the same level as their colleagues in the founding countries of the EU. The system for financing the expensive cancer care respected the principles of centralisation and money was always precisely bound to the treatment of the specific individual patient. However, the situation has been getting more complicated every year, because the number of cancer patients increases by 5% annually. In the year 2010, approximately 450,000 patients that have or have had a cancer disease will live in the Czech Republic. According to qualified estimates, approximately 76,000 cancer cases will be diagnosed this year and 27,000 patients will die from malignant neoplasm in our country. Despite this unfavourable prediction, the Czech Society for Oncology will try to ensure that the care provided to cancer patients in the year 2010 remains at least at the same level as in the past year. For more detailed information on epidemiology or malignant neoplasms, see the www.svod.cz website.
“We at the CSO all realise the difficult economic situation we are facing in the financial crisis. However, we wish to provide our patients with at least the same quality of treatment as before, by means of rationalisation of cancer care and by providing the health insurers with precise estimates of the number of patients who would require expensive care, so that health insurers can be prepared in advance for the situation. The approach of the pharmaceutical companies that reduced the prices of their drugs is also positive”, says Prof. Dr. Jiří Vorlíček, CSc., President of the Czech Society for Oncology.
The Czech Society for Oncology maintains and has available clinical registers of patients treated with targeted biological agents in the Comprehensive Cancer Centres. The objective of the registers is to evaluate the benefits and safety of treatment and clearly, this objective has successfully been met. Although the entering of data in the register is not mandatory, the registers contain information on more than 90% of cancer patients. Data is recorded anonymously, and specific patients cannot be identified. Results from the registers are provided by the Czech Society for Oncology to the health insurers, so that it is clear that high-cost treatment has expected benefits and an expected level of risk. The registers provide a sufficient number of verified evidence that the high-cost treatment in oncology is not wasted and is administered according to the motto “proper treatment to a proper patient”. Doctors meet the indication criteria, length of treatment and monitor the number of adverse reactions and survival results. The first Herceptin register was established in the year 2001. Currently the registers have complete and validated data from more than 4,000 patients and provide a significant help for the Czech Society for Oncology, as well as for physicians and patients. The clinical results precisely recorded in the registers maintained in the Czech Republic meet the expectations raised from international registry studies. The results provide clear evidence that modern albeit expensive cancer treatment is irreplaceable for patients. The overview of the extent and significance of the registers and their organisation is available at: www.registry.cz.
However, it seems from the results of the processed data that the Comprehensive Cancer Centres are not attended by all of the patients that should attend them. Patients should be given the correct information to avoid flooding the centres with patients who are not eligible for treatment on one hand, but on the other hand, to ensure that every eligible patient attends the centre. Therefore, the provision of complete information about the disease is an important part of the treatment. General and family practitioners, oncologists at the district level, and other professionals, who are best able to inform patients about the suitability and availability of all modern treatment possibilities, play an irreplaceable role. Only a well informed patient can actively participate in the decisions about his/her own care. The CSO wishes to contribute to this objective and aims to provide patients, their families and relatives with maximum cancer-related information. At its website www.linkos.cz, the CSO concentrates, regularly updates and completes scientifically guaranteed information about the diagnosis, treatment possibilities, prevention, cancer centres, and statistical occurrence of cancer diseases, and provides services, such as help of a psychologist to patients and their relatives. With more than 1,000 hits every day, linkos.cz is the seventh most visited website with healthcare-related content in the Czech Republic. In January 2010, the linkos.cz website was visited by almost 40,000 people. During the last 6 years the visitor rate has increased by 9,000%. The most frequently searched diagnosis at Linkos.cz is malignant neoplasms of the large intestine. Other useful information about the comprehensive cancer centres is also available for the patients at the website of the National Cancer Programme www.onconet.cz.
In its work, the CSO focuses not only on the availability of high-cost pharmacotherapy, but also on the entire area of care for cancer patients, including adjunctive care. One of the topics that the CSO wishes to pay more attention to this year is the nutrition of cancer patients. Even a very effective cancer treatment must be associated with care aimed at ensuring good nutrition with maximum efforts to maintain body weight. An exhausted and thin patient might not comply with the treatment plan properly or manage the required therapeutic rehabilitation, and the overall outcome of treatment may be spoiled.