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Harnessing the full potential of cancer prevention

1st National Cancer Prevention Week launched on the initiative of German Cancer Aid and the German Cancer Research Center

No. 39 | 10/09/2019

Around 40 percent of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in Germany every year could be avoided if all the scientifically proven preventive measures were actually implemented. Experts believe that future findings in prevention research will increase this figure even further. A new strategic partnership between the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and German Cancer Aid is designed to harness the considerable potential of prevention more effectively. The press conference to mark the start of the partnership was also attended by Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister of Education and Research, and Jens Spahn, Federal Minister of Health. The partnership is a contribution by DKFZ and German Cancer Aid to the National Decade Against Cancer.

© Deutsche Krebshilfe

DKFZ and German Cancer Aid plan to set up a National Cancer Prevention Center with a building in Heidelberg. Here, DKFZ's extensive prevention research is to be pooled under one roof, supplemented by an outpatient prevention clinic and an information center. At the same time, prevention programs tailored to the target groups are to be developed for use throughout the country. German Cancer Aid is providing 25 million euros for the project.

To mark the launch of the partnership, DKFZ and German Cancer Aid announced the 1st National Cancer Prevention Week from September 10 to 13, 2019 under the heading "Prevention is possible: active against cancer". They hope that this will make cancer prevention more visible and will attract greater public attention. Their advisory services – the cancer information services KID and INFONETZ KREBS – are launching a joint phone campaign that week.

"The fight against cancer begins with prevention," Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister of Education and Research, announced at the press conference. "We have teamed up with a large number of partners to launch the National Decade Against Cancer in order to gain more clout in the fight against cancer. Over the next ten years, we will be highlighting cancer research and pooling efforts in Germany. One of our priority areas right at the beginning of the decade is cancer prevention, because the best way to fight cancer is to stop it from occurring in the first place. The new National Cancer Prevention Center could become one of the cornerstones of the decade and hence help protect people more effectively."

"The fight against cancer cannot be won with better treatment alone," added Jens Spahn, Federal Minister of Health. "We also need better prevention. The new cancer prevention center can help. We want to know what really helps to prevent cancer and what the best way is to reach people. Prevention measures can prevent more than one in three cases of cancer – and in doing so avoid a great deal of suffering for patients and their families. That is an incentive for us to convince more people to go for check-ups and adopt a healthy lifestyle."

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 40 percent of all new cases of cancer could be prevented merely by consistently implementing all the evidence-based measures of primary prevention. These include not smoking, getting plenty of exercise, eating a balanced diet, and limiting alcohol consumption. In addition, there are also various secondary prevention options – early cancer detection – enabling tumors to be discovered at a treatable stage. "Despite its huge relevance, research on topics concerning prevention and early detection is still underrepresented within cancer research, both in Germany and throughout the world," remarked Professor Michael Baumann, Chairman of DKFZ's Management Board. DKFZ and German Cancer Aid have now entered into a strategic partnership to promote efforts in this field on a lasting basis.

Baumann emphasized the significance of the partnership: "Ever since it was founded, DKFZ's task and mission have covered the whole range from basic research to clinical application of results to benefit patients. That also includes cancer prevention as an important element. If we want to reduce the number of new cases significantly, we also have to ensure that the results of prevention research reach the general population. German Cancer Aid is the ideal partner for us to develop the necessary evidence-based programs and information campaigns."

"Raising awareness among the public about cancer prevention and motivating people to reduce their personal cancer risk by adopting a healthy lifestyle have always been key concerns of German Cancer Aid," Gerd Nettekoven, Chair of the Board of the German Cancer Aid Foundation, explained. "In view of the cancer prevention measures that have now been scientifically proven, we will be stepping up our education work even further. Prevention has huge potential. We will also be placing great importance on research in this area in future in order to generate new findings that will broaden the options for cancer prevention. That is why we are advocating a National Cancer Prevention Center."

Under the heading "Prevention is possible: active against cancer," DKFZ's cancer information service KID and German Cancer Aid's INFONETZ KREBS are running a joint phone campaign. The phone numbers 0800 – 420 30 40 and 0800 – 80 70 88 77 are open to anyone in Germany who wants to ring up and ask about prevention, focusing on diet, exercise, HPV vaccination for boys, and cancer myths.

German Cancer Aid and DKFZ also offer a free prevention leaflet entitled "Prevention is possible: active against cancer" containing ten tips for a healthy life and an advice booklet entitled "Preventing cancer: what can I do?". These and other materials can be ordered or downloaded at and

From next year onward, further partners are to be involved in the National Cancer Prevention Week program, including cancer centers and other hospitals, health authorities, health insurance companies, and people working in the field of company health promotion.

The National Cancer Prevention Center
The National Cancer Prevention Center will combine prevention research, an outpatient prevention clinic – for example for prevention study participants – and a citizen information center. Experts will develop evidence-based programs for prevention adapted to people's personal cancer risk and devise campaigns to raise awareness about prevention across the country with support from other partners. In addition, new digital systems for prevention are to be developed for each individual, for example in the form of an app, along with systems to support prevention research. DKFZ plans to publish an invitation to tender for a working group in the field of digital cancer prevention before the end of the year. The broad field of translational prevention research at DKFZ will also be pooled in the National Cancer Prevention Center.

The National Decade Against Cancer
On the initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), a number of stakeholders have teamed up to form a ten-year alliance in the National Decade Against Cancer. The aim is to boost cancer research and involve patients closely to offer them increasingly bright prospects. German Cancer Aid and DKFZ are partners of the National Decade Against Cancer. For more information, please go to

A photo is available to be downloaded at:

Note on use of images related to press releases
Images may be used free of charge. The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) permits one-time use in the context of reporting about the topic covered in the press release and/or about DKFZ in general. Please use the following credit: "Source: Deutsche Krebshilfe". Images may only be forwarded to third parties if prior consent has been obtained from DKFZ's Press Office (Tel.: +49 6221 42 2854, email: Images may not be used for commercial purposes.

A welcome address by Eckart von Hirschhausen for the Cancer Prevention Week can be found here (in German): 


With more than 3,000 employees, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is Germany’s largest biomedical research institute. DKFZ scientists identify cancer risk factors, investigate how cancer progresses and develop new cancer prevention strategies. They are also developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to questions relating to cancer.

To transfer promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improve the prognosis of cancer patients, the DKFZ cooperates with excellent research institutions and university hospitals throughout Germany:

  • National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT, 6 sites)
  • German Cancer Consortium (DKTK, 8 sites)
  • Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ) Heidelberg
  • Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON Mainz) - A Helmholtz Institute of the DKFZ
  • DKFZ-Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim
  • National Cancer Prevention Center (jointly with German Cancer Aid)
The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


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