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A cancer ribbon
Image: picture-alliance/Pixsell/D. Puklavec

Cancer beaten in 10 to 20 years: German health minister

February 1, 2019

Victory over cancer is within reach if German Health Minister Jens Spahn is to be believed. But patient groups have slammed the comments as "irresponsible."


German Health Minister Jens Spahn told German media on Friday that he believes cancer will be eradicated in the foreseeable future.

"There is a good chance that we will have defeated cancer in 10 to 20 years," Spahn told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

Spahn added that the world had made major breakthroughs in cancer detection and prevention.

"Medical progress is immense, research promising. And we know a lot more," the German health minister said.

Diet, exercise and cancer

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death globally after cardiovascular diseases, World Health Organization data shows. It causes one in six deaths worldwide.

The UN body says the use of tobacco is responsible for nearly 22 percent of cancer deaths. Poor eating habits and lack of physical activity are the other major causes.

Read more: How to prevent cancer

'Irresponsible' comment

Spahn's comments evoked a sharp rebuttal from the German Foundation for Patient Protection, which accused the health minister of behaving "irresponsibly."

"The number of new cases of cancer in Germany has almost doubled since the 1970s. Nearly 500,000 people contract cancer every year, and about 220,000 die from it," Eugen Brysch, the foundation's chairman, told the German Catholic News Agency (KNA).

"A health minister should not lose the trust of patients for a headline."

ap/rt (dpa, KNA, epd)

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