The Cancer Information Service at the German Cancer Research Center answers enquiries from refugees from Ukraine with cancer as well as their relatives. Here you will find necessary basic information and contact points.
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Ukrainian refugees who need medical assistance in Germany normally initially receive basic care according to the Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act. Although this basic care includes fewer benefits than the German statutory health insurance, it guarantees the necessary medical care.
For cancer patients, this usually means that the necessary oncological treatment is continued or even started.
If it is necessary in individual cases for medical reasons, medical care under the Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act also includes the costs of transport for transfer to other hospitals within Germany as well as travel expenses. The responsible authority makes the decision on this.
Important for Ukrainian cancer patients
Currently, people from Ukraine are allowed to stay in Germany for up to 90 days even without a visa or asylum.
If you have cancer and need medical care, it is important that you register at your place of residence with the municipality or foreigners registration office. This is the only way you can access the medical benefits mentioned here. This municipality or the local social welfare office is then responsible for granting appropriate medical benefits.
You can find the nearest foreigners registration office via a search function of the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge.
- Important to know: If you decide to stay in Germany without appropriate registration, you have a "tourist status". This means you have to pay for all medical services yourself unless you have travel insurance abroad.
After registration, people from Ukraine receive a certificate (proof of arrival or start-up certificate).
- Important to know: With this certificate, you usually cannot go directly to a clinic or a medical practice.
Depending on the federal state and also the responsible municipality, there are 2 different procedures for refugees to receive medical care after registration.
- Treatment with a treatment voucher: Ukrainian refugees usually receive a treatment voucher after registering with the locally responsible office, such as the social welfare office or the foreigners authority. They have to take this to the doctor or clinic so that they can settle the bill with the German authorities. However, the exact procedure may differ in the individual federal states, cities or municipalities. For example, it is possible that the treatment certificate specifies the doctor with whom the treatment must take place. The treatment certificate may also specify a period of validity. Referrals to specialist practices or admissions to clinics must sometimes be approved by the competent body, such as the social welfare office or the municipality.
- Treatment with insurance card: In some federal states, practitioners bill health insurers directly for medical care after a period of time, without treatment vouchers. Refugees receive an insurance card for this. Examples are Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia. In order to bridge the period between registering with the health insurance fund and receiving the card, the health insurance fund first hands out a so-called "provisional care certificate". Patients must present this care certificate and later the insurance card at the practice or clinic.
Finding a clinic: It is best for refugee cancer patients to clarify at an early stage with their competent authority and the clinic of choice whether treatment is possible there.
Good to know: There are also support services in many places in Germany that initially give refugees unbureaucratic access to medical care.
Psychological and psycho-oncological support: The events related to the war in Ukraine can have a negative impact on the psyche of any cancer patient at any stage of the cancer disease. Although people react differently to war and trauma, it can be assumed that during or shortly after the flight, the psychological strain on those affected is very high. This can intensify cancer- or treatment-related complaints such as pain or severe exhaustion (fatigue). Some people therefore need additional psychological support.
- Those affected can get help from the Ukrainian Psycho-oncology Association (UPOA). Their psychologists are still available virtually for psychological support via Facebook.
- There are also other international psycho-oncology societies or associations that offer their help, such as in Poland.
- The information sheet Coping with Cancer in an Emergency or Catastrophic Situation (PDF) of the American Cancer Society offers initial orientation for those affected.
- In the Handbook Germany, under the heading Where can I find psychological support?, there are various non-cancer-specific contact points that affected persons can turn to (german).
Corona: War refugees from Ukraine can get tested for the corona virus and vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 in Germany. These health benefits are also paid for.
- Experts recommend cancer patients and their relatives to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Depending on their personal disease situation, cancer patients belong to the risk group for a severe course of COVID-19. Since many refugees from Ukraine are currently living in very confined spaces with many people, vaccination is particularly important for Ukrainian cancer patients.
- The German Robert Koch Institute (RKI) offers an educational leaflet on COVID-19 vaccination also in Ukrainian.
Further assistance for Ukrainian cancer patients
The German Cancer Aid (DKH) has set up an aid fund for relatives of Ukrainian cancer patients who accompany the patients (children or adults) during treatment in cancer centres in Germany. From this assistance fund, travel, accommodation and other costs already incurred or to be incurred by family members of the patients will be covered by German Cancer Aid up to an amount of 5,000 euros/patient.
- The aid fund is available to Ukrainian cancer patients who are treated in Comprehensive Cancer Centres, in cancer centres certified by the German Cancer Society and in children's cancer centres.
- The application must be submitted by these clinics.
- Further information is available on the DKH website and from INFONETZ KREBS on 0800 80708877 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The German Cancer Society (DKG) maintains a list of certified Oncological Centres and Comprehensive Cancer Centres (CCCs/Spitzenzentren) on its website to which refugee Ukrainian patients in need of cancer therapy can turn. The centres listed there provide support in the regional patient-centered care.
- The website is in German, English, Ukrainian and Russian.
- The listed facilities all offer a telephone hotline and e-mail address with contact persons who can help cancer patients.
- The list is updated continuously.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in the USA and the Society for Pediatric Oncology and Hematology (GPOH) in Germany, together with national and regional partners, are coordinating the evacuation of children with cancer from Ukraine and their medical care in specialized centers.
- Website of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital: Providing safety and treatment to Ukrainian kids with cancer
- Website of the GPOH (german)
The University Hospital Düsseldorf accepts Ukrainian children, adolescents and adults suffering from leukaemia and lymphoma.
- The address is:
Düsseldorf University Hospital
Tel: +49 (0)211-81 19 530
- The costs of treatment are covered by the AOK health insurance fund.
- Affected persons should register at the entrance gate of the university hospital. If possible, an identity document and the contact details of the current accommodation should be brought along.
- Questions about the stay at the University Hospital can be answered – also in Russian – at the office of the Leukaemia Lymphoma League e.V. under the telephone number +49 (0)211-81 19 530.
Various state cancer societies support Ukrainian cancer patients: The Krebsgesellschaft Rheinland-Pfalz e.V., the Thüringische Krebsgesellschaft e.V. and the Saarländische Krebsgesellschaft e.V. work within the initiative "Cancer Sufferers and Refugees - We Help", where
- they support affected refugees by providing timely and needs-based referrals to specialists and helping them to make contact.
- they offer free counselling in various foreign languages.
In addition, the counsellors try to provide further practical help such as arranging accommodation or interpreting and transport services.
The Berliner Krebsgesellschaft e.V. offers unbureaucratic financial support from its hardship fund to Ukrainian refugees with cancer. Affected persons can apply for the money through the district cancer societies, social services of the treating hospitals or directly on the Berliner Krebsgesellschaft e.V.. Requirements are:
- a medical certificate stating the cancer disease,
- a copy of the identity card and
- that the person is residing in Berlin.
#health4ukraine: On the privately initiated platform #health4ukraine, companies and institutions from the care sector can easily report vacant care places for people from Ukraine. #health4ukraine organizes transports for people in need of care and their relatives to safe areas. They also refer them to care facilities throughout Germany. #health4ukraine covers the transport costs.
American Cancer Society (ACS): The American Cancer Society offers support for people with cancer from Ukraine. It answers telephone and written enquiries from those affected in the national languages: the telephone number and e-mail address can be found on the website. It has also provided a lot of information material and further information in English, Ukrainian, Russian and Polish.
Transport of cancer patients from Ukraine: Policy actions
Regardless of this, German politics is working on uncomplicated solutions to ensure that the medical care of refugees is unbureaucratic and comprehensive. It is possible that the current procedure will change again because of this.
- We inform here promptly about any changes.
Are politicians organising ways to bring Ukrainian cancer patients to Germany? According to the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), the federal and state governments have agreed to accept sick and injured people from Ukraine for treatment in Germany.
The Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), the Joint Reporting and Situation Centre (GMLZ) of the Federation and the federal states and the Federal Foreign Office are working together to coordinate the transport of patients to Germany.
After arrival in Germany, the patients are distributed to hospitals in Germany according to a cloverleaf mechanism. The cloverleaf mechanism was developed during the Corona pandemic and organises the transfer of patients between federal states and individual regions in Germany.
How can cancer patients from Ukraine or their relatives organise patient transport? People who need help can try to contact the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior or the government via their hospital. There, all cases are registered centrally and assistance is organised. If necessary, aid organisations that provide assistance in Ukraine can also organise transport to neighbouring countries. Examples are the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB), the German Red Cross (DRK), the Johanniter or the Malteser. The Federal Foreign Office offers a list of aid organisations in the Humanitarian Aid Coordination Committee.