LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's health secretary complained on Thursday about an advertisement run by Rudy Giuliani, saying the U.S. Republican presidential candidate had maligned Britain's health care system with bad statistics.
In the radio ad, Giuliani, who has suffered prostate cancer, said the U.S. survival rate for the disease was 82 percent, but the survival rate in Britain was just 44 percent "under socialized medicine".
Britain's Health Secretary Alan Johnson said Giuliani's figures were wrong and the survival rate under Britain's National Health Service was in fact much higher.
"The British NHS should not become a political football in American presidential politics," Johnson told The Times newspaper.
"Our rate of prostate cancer survival is actually much higher than has been claimed. The latest data show a survival rate of over 70 percent and rising."
A health department spokesman said the latest figures from Britain's Office of National Statistics showed a five-year survival rate of 74.4 percent for prostate cancer.
Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella has said the former New York mayor got his figures from a magazine article and used it at a campaign stop, which was recorded and used in the advertisement.
Cancer survival rate statistics depend on the number of cancers that are detected and when they are reported, and therefore may not necessarily reflect how well a health care system performs at preventing cancer deaths overall.
The Times said roughly the same proportion of men -- 25 out of 100,000 -- die of prostate cancer in the United States and Britain each year.