(Reuters) - Republican presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani acknowledged on Friday his cancer statistics were outdated but said his point remained the same -- beware of British health care.
Giuliani, who has suffered prostate cancer, has taken criticism from British and U.S. health officials for saying in a radio ad this week the U.S. survival rate for the disease was 82 percent while the survival rate under Britain's "socialized medicine" was 44 percent.
Health officials in both countries say the most recent statistics show five-year survival rates for prostate cancer are 99 percent in the United States and 74 percent under Britain's National Health Service.
Giuliani told reporters he was using statistics from 2000 and said "those statistics have changed slightly today" -- but he did not back away from the broader comparison.
"Even if you want to quibble about statistics, you find me the person who leaves the United States and goes to England for prostate cancer treatment, and I would like to meet that person," he said.
The debate about overhauling the U.S. health-care system is a top issue in the campaign for the November 2008 presidential election.
Many Democratic candidates like Senator Hillary Clinton of New York have proposed universal health-care coverage for Americans through a mixture of private and public plans. It would not be government-run health care, but Republicans often portray it as a similar big-government fix.
"If we ever got to Hillarycare in this country, Canadians will have nowhere to go for health care," Giuliani said. Canada has a government-funded universal health-care system.