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Medical tourism for cancer patients in Latvia

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Patients from all over the world are travelling to Latvia to seek treatment from cancer and the Virotherapy Centre has developed a programme to ensure their treatment is as comfortable as possible

DNE Editor in Chief Maher Hamoud visits the Latvian facilities

DNE Editor in Chief Maher Hamoud visits the Latvian facilities

The treatment of cancer is constantly changing and many scientists are involved in trying to find a cure for one of the deadliest diseases we are confronted with in modern times. The small country of Latvia is at the forefront of one of the latest treatments for many forms of cancer that is attracting patients from all over the world.

It all began with Latvian scientist Aina Muceniece who began her career in 1945 at the A. Kirchenstein Institute of Microbiology. After years of study the first laboratory for virotherapy as a treatment for cancer was established at the institute, which led to the development of the medicine Rigvir.

Over the years several clinical trials were conducted that proved the safety and effectiveness of Rigvir in stage four cancer patients.

Following the collapse of the former Soviet Union the testing and use in treatment of Rigvir stopped for a few years, but its effectiveness in the treatment of several kinds of cancer, from prostate to bladder, colon, melanoma and lung cancer, had been proven. In 2002 the work began again and since 2005 Rigvir has been used in treatment in hospitals and available in pharmacies all over Latvia. Rigvir activates and normalises the immune system of the patient and is well-tolerated and safe.

Aina Muceniece’s daughter followed in her mother’s footsteps and heads the Association of Virotherapy of Latvia which aims to promote virotherapy and the training of doctors to use the medication. As Rigvir proved to be more and more successful and interest from patients all over the world grew, the Latvian Virotherapy Centre was established to provide treatment and support for those patients.

Currently Rigvir is used in hospitals all over Latvia in the treatment of cancer and has been accepted as treatment for melanoma patients by insurance companies since 2011.

Patients from all over the world are travelling to Latvia to seek treatment and the Virotherapy Centre has developed a programme to ensure their treatment is as comfortable as possible. When a new patient seeks the help of the centre the first consultation is done by phone or email and a complete assessment of the medical records and tests is conducted when the patient is still in their home country.

The clinic then takes care of all the travel, accommodation and medical arrangements for the patient and makes sure that any additional screening and tests are organised to take place in the Latvian hospital. A full treatment plan and follow up is created by the doctors of the clinic after which the treatment starts.

The first round of treatment will take place when the patient is in Latvia, but the follow-up treatments can normally take place when the patient is back at home in their own environment. The arrangements to deliver Rigvir to the patients are handled by the clinic as well, making the whole experience as comfortable as possible for the patients.


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