By Pat Carragher - September 19, 2022
President Joe Biden has vowed to reduce cancer deaths as part of his “Moonshot” initiative. Biden delivered the speech at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on the 60th anniversary of Kennedy’s original “Moonshot” speech. The president said his goal is to cut cancer death rates by at least 50% over the next 25 years, adding that he wants to “create a more supportive experience for patients and families.”
“This cancer moonshot is one of the reasons why I ran for president,” said Biden. “Cancer does not discriminate red and blue. It doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. Beating cancer is something we can do together.”
“Almost every family has been touched by cancer and we can do a lot about it,” said Hwu. “We can start by giving everybody the best treatment that’s known today, by continually doing research to cut those cancer death rates, by studying the immune system and by understanding what’s causing cancers. Almost half of cancers are preventable by factors that we already know about today.”
Hwu believes the goal of cutting death rates in half is within reach. According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of death from cancer dropped by about 2% a year from 2015 through 2019 compared to 1% a year during the 1990s. Accelerating declines in the cancer death rate shows the power of prevention, screening, early diagnosis, treatment and our overall potential to move closer to a world without cancer.
“We’re witnessing a very special time in cancer research and cancer care,” said Hwu. “In the last few years, the death rate is starting to come down and that’s because of all our advances in understanding the immune system, understanding the different causes of cancer and being able to target cancer pills and break off the circuitry of how cancers grow. It’s a very exciting time and if we can just focus the nation’s resources on this initiative, we can really continue to knock that death rate down.”
"It’s a very exciting time and if we can just focus the nation’s resources on this initiative, we can really continue to knock that death rate down."- Dr. Patrick Hwu, President and CEO
Biden first announced his cancer moonshot goal in February. The announcement was followed by a visit to Moffitt Cancer Center by first lady Dr. Jill Biden. She echoed the president’s sentiments of reducing cancer deaths and improving the experience of those living with and surviving cancer. The Biden administration also announced the creation of a Cancer Cabinet incorporating different corners of the government to work toward the president’s goal.
“The moonshot initiative is really about a number of very practical moves,” said Hwu. “We can start by giving everyone the current therapies that we know work and making sure that every diverse community has equal access. Next, we need to do research. We need to put people on clinical trials because often that’s the best chance for somebody is to get a medicine today that they normally wouldn’t get until 10 years from now if we were to wait for the approval. Finally, we need to detect the cancers early so we can treat them much earlier. If we can do all that, I think we can achieve our goals.”