What is the greatest challenge facing cancer researchers

National Decade Against Cancer

Cancer remains one of the greatest challenges for modern medicine. Cancer is the second leading cause of death and the most feared disease in our society. The number of new cancer cases worldwide will double over the next 20 years, and many people will live with their disease for many years to come. In Germany alone, an increase in new cancer cases from currently 500,000 to 600,000 cases annually is to be expected towards the end of the decade. Major causes are our aging society and an unhealthy lifestyle.

In order to further improve the prospects of patients after a cancer diagnosis, new possibilities for early detection, diagnosis, therapy and follow-up care must be researched and benefit those affected as quickly as possible. Effective ways of prevention must be developed and implemented in order to reduce the number of new cancer cases in the long term. About 40 percent of all cancers can be traced back to influenceable risk factors and can be avoided through suitable prevention.

Germany therefore needs in addition to that National cancer plan, which focuses primarily on advancing cancer care, also has a long-term research strategy in the fight against cancer. A greater awareness of all actors for strong cancer research and cancer prevention, the strengthening of clinical studies, a better cooperation between research and care and a faster transfer of new prevention, diagnosis and therapy approaches with proven benefits into practice as well as a new openness in the Population to talk about the sensitive issue of cancer is necessary.

That's why that Federal Ministry of Education and Research Together with the Federal Ministry of Health and many other partners, the ten-year initiative "National Decade Against Cancer" brought to life. In this so far unique initiative, we, representatives from politics, cancer research, research funding, healthcare, business and society, work together. We are united by the goal of mobilizing all forces in Germany and fighting cancer in a targeted and successful manner. We call on all social groups to join the initiative and participate.

These are the goals of the National Decade Against Cancer

Improve the quality of life of those affected

We will improve the lives of cancer patients through research and the rapid implementation of their results in comprehensive oncological care. Thanks to modern early detection and treatment methods, at the end of the decade in Germany, three out of four patients would be cured or manageable over the long term - and that with a good quality of life for those affected.

Less cancer, strengthen prevention

Cancer prevention will reduce the number of new cases of cancer. Prevention measures are pursued sustainably and with a long-term perspective. The proportion of preventable cancers, currently around 40 percent of total cancers, will be reduced by 10 percent every 10 years, that is to about 36 percent in 10 years and 32 percent in 20 years. However, since it can take decades for cancer to develop, this effect will be measurable for the first time in 2040.

Access to oncological care for everyone in Germany

All people in Germany have access to high-quality oncological care and to innovations in cancer research with proven benefits, in particular via locations of translational cancer research within reach and their networking with regional and supraregional care institutions. The key to this is close cooperation between research institutions, university clinics, qualified hospitals and specialist practices.

Active participation of the citizens

The population has developed an awareness of cancer prevention; Appropriate measures have strengthened confidence in cancer research. Citizens take an active part in cancer prevention and research.

Germany as a leading location for patient-oriented cancer research

Motivated and excellently trained scientists as well as employees in the health care system contribute to Germany being a leading international location for patient-oriented cancer research and oncological care.

Four thematic blocks will therefore be in focus over the next ten years:


What protects against cancer? How can everyone personally prevent and take care of cancer? And how can each individual be supported in living healthy? The National Decade Against Cancer will advance research on health and prevention. New strategies and methods should enable personalized early cancer detection.

You can find more information on the website www.dekade-gegen-krebs.de


The earlier cancer is detected, the better the chances of a cure. This requires reliable diagnostic methods that are best able to detect cancer before it first causes symptoms. The National Decade Against Cancer will therefore strengthen research into novel diagnostic methods. Comprehensive diagnostics are also necessary so that doctors can make the best possible therapy decision.

You can find more information on the website www.dekade-gegen-krebs.de


Not all cancer is created equal. Therapies therefore do not have the same effect on every patient. Cancer treatment is therefore increasingly tailored to individual patients. Personalized medicine looks for the treatment that helps each person with the disease in the best possible way. In the National Decade against Cancer, the uniqueness of each person is therefore the focus of research and care.

You can find more information on the website www.dekade-gegen-krebs.de

Participation and involvement

The National Decade Against Cancer will actively involve citizens in the orientation of cancer research so that they can contribute their perspectives and expertise. Your involvement lays the foundation for successful and needs-based cancer research. Because it must take into account the needs of everyone involved: patients, their relatives, doctors and nursing staff

You can find more information on the website www.dekade-gegen-krebs.de

These are the members of the strategy group

  • Chair: Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Minister for Education and Research
  • Co-chair: Prof. Dr. med. Michael Baumann, CEO and Scientific Director of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
  • Jan Geissler:Founder and CEO of Patvocates. Patvocates is a think tank and consulting firm specializing in patient advocacy, health policy and medical research
  • Prof. Dr. med. Michael Hallek, Executive Chairman of the German Society for Hematology and Medical Oncology (DGHO)
  • Prof. em. Wolfgang Hiddemann, until the end of 2017 long-time director of the Medical Clinic III at the Ludwig Maximilians University Hospital in Munich
  • Prof. Dr. med. Wolfgang Knauf, Chairman of the Professional Association of Resident Hematologists and Oncologists (BNHO)
  • Prof. Dr. Heyo K. Kroemer, President of the Medical Faculty Conference (MFT)
  • Dr. Christa Maar, Managing Director of the Felix Burda Foundation, member of the Board of Trustees of the DKFZ
  • Gerd Nettekoven, Chairman of the Board of the German Cancer Aid Foundation (DKH)
  • Prof. Dr. med. Olaf Ortmann, President of the German Cancer Society (DKG)
  • Renate Pfeifer, Board member of the Federal Working Group on Self-Help for People with Disabilities, Chronic Illnesses and their Relatives (BAG SELBSTHILFE); Project manager in the support group for children and adolescents with cancer
  • Dr. Doris Pfeiffer, Chairwoman of the board of the National Association of Health Insurance Funds (GKV-Spitzenverband)
  • Prof. Hagen Pfundner: Board of Directors of Roche Pharma AG
  • Karin Prien, Minister for Education, Science and the Arts of Schleswig-Holstein
  • Prof. Dr. Julia Carolin Stingl, Vice President, Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM)
  • Dr. med. Özlem Türeci, CEO BioNTech AG
  • Sabine Weiss, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Minister of Health