National Decade against Cancer
The National Decade against Cancer brings together numerous key players to work on ensuring effective cancer research, in which patients are closely involved and which offers them increasingly improved prospects.
Launched by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and scheduled to run for ten years, the alliance aims to mobilize people in Germany to address the topic of cancer research. At the same time, it is also designed to reinforce support for research itself. Innovations should receive more targeted support and be made available to patients faster. By joining forces, it is hoped that there will be fewer new cases, cancer will be diagnosed more quickly and that better treatments will be developed.
Mission, Goals, Tasks – Joint Research to Fight Cancer
All of the relevant key players in Germany are joining forces in the fight against cancer.
Thanks to the enormous progress made in medical research, it is now possible to cure many cases of cancer. Survival rates for cancer patients have increased considerably over the last 40 years. One of the main reasons for this is an improved understanding of the pathological process, which has also led to more targeted treatments. However, despite this, cancer is still the second most common cause of death in Germany and the disease most feared by the general public. This is exacerbated by the fact cancer can affect anyone. Furthermore, due to the predicted ageing of our society, the number of new diagnoses is expected to increase from 500,000 per year today to approximately 600,000 per year by 2030. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has therefore joined forces with the Federal Ministry of Health and other partners to launch the National Decade against Cancer.
Decade against Cancer – Partners
As the initiator of the National Decade against Cancer, the BMBF has formed alliances with a number of top-level partners from the fields of medicine and research, society, politics and business. Only when we work together will we succeed in overcoming cancer.
Our partners are:
- Federal umbrella Association of Self-Help Organisations – BAG SELBSTHILFE
- Professional Association of Office-based Hematologists and Oncologists in Germany (BNHO)
- Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices
- Federal Ministry of Education and Research
- Federal Ministry of Health
- German Leading-Edge Cluster Ci3 – Cluster for Individualized Immune Intervention
- German Society for Hematology and Medical Oncology (DGHO)
- German Association of Medical Faculties (MFT) and German Association of Academic Medical Centers (VUD)
- German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe)
- German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
- German Cancer Society
- Felix Burda Foundation
- National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds GKV
- Patvocates GmbH
- Roche Deutschland Holding GmbH
- Ministry of Education, Science and Cultural Affairs of the Land Schleswig-Holstein
The Strategy Committee – A Strong Team
The Decade’s Strategy Committee is made up of representatives from key partner organisations from the fields of medicine and research, society, politics and business.
The committee is chaired by Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Education and Research, and co-chaired by Professor Michael Baumann, Chairman of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). A full list of all the members of the Strategy Committee can be found at the German website.
Defining Objectives and Milestones
The Strategy Committee is the driving force behind the National Decade against Cancer. They define specific objectives, fields of action and milestones for the Decade and initiate relevant activities (see "National Decade against Cancer Joint Declaration”). Key decisions were made at the first Strategy Committee meeting in November 2018 that have set the course for future cooperation.
As part of the first meeting, the members agreed to establish three working groups: “Major unanswered questions in cancer research”, “Prevention” and “Generating knowledge through networking, research and health care”. In addition to this, a “Communication” project team was set up, comprising experts from the public relations and press departments of the Decade’s partner institutions since it is also an important task of the Strategy Committee to draw attention to the National Decade against Cancer programme.
The Working Groups
Cancer research experts are appointed to the working groups.
Working Group “Major Unanswered Questions in Cancer Research”
Professor Michael Hallek (German Society for Haematology and Oncology)
Professor Michael Baumann (German Cancer Research Center)
The working group is to define the most important questions in cancer research and develop a roadmap for tackling these issues. In light of the particular strengths of the German research scene, they will determine which research priorities offer the best opportunities and which are the most promising in terms of benefit to society.
The working group will hold joint workshops with researchers to identify the current challenges and knowledge gaps within individual fields of cancer research and provide important impetus for their future direction.
Working Group “Prevention”
Dr. Christa Maar (Felix Burda Foundation)
Professor Hermann Brenner (German Cancer Research Center)
The rate of new cancer cases could be reduced by up to 40 percent – but only if the available cancer prevention measures are implemented consistently and utilized sufficiently.
The working group will therefore define research priorities, which will improve the effectiveness of existing prevention programmes, for instance for colorectal cancer and cervical cancer. In addition to this, innovative strategies and methods are to result in significant further improvements to prevention methods, in particular by way of new possibilities to design personalized preventive treatments adapted to match individual risk.
The working group will initially focus on improving prevention and early detection of the most common forms of cancer.
Working Group “Generating Knowledge through Networking, Research and Health Care”
Parliamentary State Secretary Sabine Weiss (Federal Ministry of Health)
Professor Olaf Ortmann (German Cancer Society)
The sooner research findings can be applied in health care practice, the better patients can be treated. Conversely, researchers depend upon using patient treatment data to conduct targeted research and continue to improve health care provisions for people.
The working group plans to draw up a conceptual framework designed to optimize this process of reciprocal learning between research and health care. This involves, for example, building better networks between cancer research centres and health care providers. Questions of data standardization, data protection and data security need to be answered in order to be able to exchange, share and use health care and research data.
Better Treatment for Cancer Patients: BMBF Supports Practice-changing Studies with over €60 Million
The primary aim of cancer research is to further improve the quality of life and chances of recovery for cancer patients. Studies that critically review standard practices in prevention, diagnosis and treatment make a valuable contribution to achieving this.
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research therefore wishes to support clinical studies that compare various established strategies used in cancer treatment and assess their benefit for patients. In technical terms, these are referred to as confirmatory studies. Confirmatory studies identify the most successful strategies and pinpoint areas in need of optimization in day-to-day health care practice. Such findings can be used to make targeted improvements to health care practice, to further increase survival rates for cancer patients and to offer them a better quality of life. What makes these studies special is that they also consider and address the perspectives and needs of patients as well as other relevant interest groups from the health care sector.
This new funding measure represents the first time that the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has enabled the funding of such practice-changing studies in the field of cancer medicine. The Ministry is to provide up to €62 million in funding over the next ten years. Studies of this type are usually very complex and expensive as they need to be carried out on a large number of patients over a long period of time and often at multiple participating clinics. You can find out more about the studies at the German website.