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We Are Making a Difference in Cancer Prevention and Control
The German Cancer Society (www.krebsgesellschaft.de)
Deutsche Krebsgesellschaft e. V.
Kuno-Fischer-Str. 8 | 14057 Berlin
Tel. +49 030 – 322 932 970 | Fax +49 030 – 322 932 922
With more than 7,600 individual members, the German Cancer Society is the largest oncological expert network in Germany. We also act as an umbrella organization for 16 cancer societies giving regional support to cancer patients. Our activities include:
• Certification: Our certification programme was developed to offer patients a treatment based on high quality standards. Certified cancer centres and annual quality reports form the basis of this approach.
• Developing clinical practice guidelines: We are part of the German Guideline Program in Oncology launched in 2008.
• Cancer prevention: As a member of the German Non-Smoking Alliance, we support the reduction of tobacco use and are also part of the German Alliance for UV Protection.
• Influencing health policy: We are the co-founder of the German National Cancer Plan, which was launched in 2008 by the Federal Ministry of Health.
• Networking: We are involved in various national and European initiatives, such as the UICC and others.
In Germany, there are about 480,000 new cases of cancer every year. Due to the demographic development, an increase in cancer cases of at least 20% is expected until 2030. However, the survival prospects of cancer patients in Germany significantly improved during the past 30 years. The most significant improvements have been achieved for tumors of breast, colon and prostate. Moreover, our health system was successful in balancing the differences in cancer survival rates between the states of the former East Germany and those of the former West Germany to a large degree. Reductions in cancer mortality are mainly attributed to progress in diagnosis and treatment. The question, whether for example breast cancer screening has attributed to these effects, can only be accomplished after several years of further observation.
In 2008, The German National Cancer Plan was launched by the Federal Ministry of Health. The plan puts its focus on the following fields:
• Further development of cancer screening,
• Further improvement in structural aspects of oncology care and quality assurance,
• Ensuring effective oncological treatment (initial focus on drug therapy),
• Strengthening patient orientation in cancer care.
The German Cancer Society is part of a number of working groups, involved in the implementation of the National Cancer Plan.
A milestone in the implementation of the National Cancer Plan was the adoption of a new law in spring 2013 that provides the framework for the establishment of comprehensive clinical cancer registries by all the federal states of Germany. Implementation of clinical cancer registries is an important tool to improve quality of cancer care. Moreover, under the new law, certain examinations for cancer screening will be conducted as organized screening programmes in the future.
The key challenges, that our coutry will need to respond over the coming years include:
Cancer prevention: tobacco abuse, adipositas and physical inactivity are major cancer risk factors. More research is needed on how to effectively raise awareness for avoidable cancer risks among the general population. We also need effective programmes to support those who are willing to change their lifestyle habits to reduce their cancer risk. (A national law to implement the 2014/40/EU Tobacco Product Directive is under development.)
Quality of cancer care: Unfortunately, quality improvements in cancer care are not rewarded by payers in Germany. Moreover, there is a strong need for more systematic health service research to identify negative incentives in our health care system and their influence on cancer care.
Ensuring effective oncological treatment: To allow patients to fully benefit from innovative personalized treatment, changes in policy framework are needed, leading to better reimbursement of companion diagnostics and improved documentation of off-label-use.