By Kim Polacek, APR, CPRC - February 03, 2022
President Joe Biden has renewed his pledge to “end cancer as we know it.” Surrounded by 100 cancer researchers, advocates and patients, he and first lady Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris announced a revival of the Cancer Moonshot. The initiative, first launched in 2016 when Biden was vice president, aims to accelerate the progress of cancer research in the United States. Now, the newly relaunched Cancer Moonshot will expand its focus.
Acknowledging the progress that has been made in cancer therapeutics, diagnostics and care, as well as the scientific advances and public health lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, the president announced two new national goals for the Cancer Moonshot:
- Reduce the cancer death rate by at least 50% over the next 25 years
- Improve the experience of people and their families who are living with and surviving cancer
“It’s bold. It’s ambitious. But it is completely doable. We will bring a fierce sense of urgency to the fight against cancer,” said Biden. “We can do this. For all those we have lost. For all those we have missed. We can end cancer as we know it. Let there be no doubt, this is a presidential White House priority. Period.”
He touched on several ways America can meet these goals including early detection and cancer prevention, addressing health inequities, developing more personalized therapies for patients, accelerating progress against some of the most deadly and rarest cancers, and providing better support for patients, caregivers and survivors. Biden emphasized that we all must do our part and that begins with cancer screenings. He made a call to action, sharing that more than 9.5 million Americans have missed screenings because of the pandemic.
“If you were supposed to get a cancer screening during the pandemic, call your primary care physician today. If you’re that doctor, talk to your patients. Get a screening schedule,” Biden said. “I know cancer is scary, but screening is how you catch it early before it is too late.”
Dr. John Cleveland, center director for Moffitt Cancer Center, was in the East Room of the White House for the announcement. The longtime cancer researcher found it to be incredibly inspiring. “With the relaunch of the Cancer Moonshot, we at Moffitt Cancer Center and all of the cancer community are called to action to improve screening in our communities, our state and our nation, by bringing screening to our neighborhoods and devising new ways to detect cancer at its earliest stages so we can stop this scourge in its tracks. Like the president said, there is an overwhelming urgency to redouble our efforts to make cancer prevention a reality. Moffitt is committed to this call to action,” he said.
Biden urged the scientific community to bring their boldest ideas to the table to win this fight and asked the private sector to bring new therapies to market that are affordable and share their data so more can be done. He also wants cancer patients, survivors, caregivers and their families to know their voices will be heard.
“Share your perspectives and experiences. Keep pushing for progress. You have a voice and a seat at the table,” Biden said.
A new Cancer Cabinet will convene in the coming weeks to drive the government efforts behind the Cancer Moonshot, with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy assisting those efforts. During the announcement, Biden once again urged Congress to fund his proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. This agency, which would be overseen by the National Institutes of Health, would provide funding and resources to speed research discoveries aimed at improving prevention, detection and treatment for a range of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
“The relaunch of a supercharged Cancer Moonshot underscores what President Biden said defines our nation, where ‘everything is possible, and nothing is beyond our capacity.’ Every day, at Moffitt, and across the nation and the world, there are new research breakthroughs delivering superior and safe treatments for cancer patients. An emphasis that is needed now, one that is truly required to move the needle and bring this disease to its knees, is cancer prevention, which is a key part of our mission at Moffitt,” Cleveland said.
Following the briefing, the White House launched a website where Americans can track the progress of the Cancer Moonshot. Visitors are also encouraged to share their stories and actions they are taking in the fight against cancer.