By Corrie Pellegrino - February 03, 2023
It has been one year since President Joe Biden announced the relaunch of the Cancer Moonshot initiative in February 2022, pledging to “end cancer as we know it.” On Friday, Cancer Moonshot Coordinator Danielle Carnival, PhD, spoke at Moffitt Cancer Center’s seventh annual Women in Oncology Grand Rounds to highlight the incredible progress that has been made over the past year and share her hopes for the road ahead.
“There’s so much reason for hope,” she said, citing the two ambitious goals of the Cancer Moonshot initiative — to decrease cancer deaths by at least 50% over 25 years and to improve the experience of people and families living with and surviving cancer. “This means investing in research and innovation to develop new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer, and to make sure that we reach more Americans with the tools we already have and those we develop along the way.”
One year ago, @POTUS and @FLOTUS reignited the Cancer Moonshot to cut the cancer death rate by 50% over the next 25 years and end cancer as we know it.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 2, 2023
Today, the Administration is announcing additional steps that will advance this important mission.
The Cancer Moonshot initiative first launched in 2016 during Biden’s vice presidency and was reignited in February 2022, when Moffitt also hosted first lady Jill Biden for a tour of the cancer center. On Friday, Carnival highlighted the work of the president’s new Cancer Cabinet and some of the important actions that the administration has taken over the past year in support of the initiative. These include:
- The launch of WhiteHouse.gov/CancerMoonshot, where stakeholders can share information and commit to taking action to help achieve Cancer Moonshot goals
- The creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, which aims to deliver new ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer and other diseases
- More than $200 million in grants issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of a commitment to advance cancer prevention and control through screening programs across the U.S.
- The Environmental Protection Agency’s commitment of $1 billion to accelerate cleanup at up to 80 previously underfunded Superfund sites as well as $7.4 billion to help states replace lead pipes and service lines, protecting millions of Americans from contaminants that could increase their cancer risk
- The Department of Veterans Affairs’ implementation of the PACT Act, expanding VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances, and expedition of veterans’ benefits claims for cancers associated with the PACT Act
- The Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rules prohibiting menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, a change that could prevent up to 654,000 smoking-related deaths, including approximately 238,000 among Black and African Americans
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Agricultural Science Center of Excellence for Nutrition and Diet for Better Health (ASCEND for Better Health), which aims to accelerate research on diet-related chronic diseases, including cancer, and translate research into impactful solutions
- An anticipated reduction in prescription drug costs for tens of thousands of cancer patients due to the Inflation Reduction Act, which caps out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $2,000 per year for Medicare beneficiaries
- A large national trial launched by the National Cancer Institute that aims to identify effective blood tests for the detection of one or more cancers, providing the opportunity for additional, less-invasive tools for early detection
The Cancer Moonshot efforts center on five key focus areas: closing the cancer screening gap, understanding and addressing environmental exposure, decreasing the impact of preventable cancers, bringing cutting-edge research to patients and communities, and supporting patients and caregivers.
Carnival stressed the importance of having all stakeholders involved in working toward the Cancer Moonshot goals. In addition to the federal government, the initiative incorporates efforts and input from the scientific community, medical and public health community, private sector, and patients and caregivers. In the past year, more than 60 private companies, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions and patient groups have stepped up with new actions and collaborations, the administration reports.
Institutions like Moffitt are crucial to the Cancer Moonshot, Carnival said. “We all recognize that we don’t have all the tools we’re going to need to end cancer as we know it,” Carnival said. “So the robust research and innovation that Moffitt and others drive is a huge part of what we need to make sure that we’re improving outcomes and care across the country.”
In the second year of the relaunched Cancer Moonshot, the coordinated effort is expected to continue. The National Cancer Institute is launching a public-private partnership to bring clinical and patient navigation support to families facing childhood cancer. The Health Resources and Services Administration is awarding $10 million to improve access to lifesaving cancer screenings and early detection. And the Department of Health and Human Services is launching CancerX, another public-private partnership designed as a national accelerator to boost innovation in the fight against cancer.
Meanwhile, the White House has announced that public and private organizations are also stepping up their efforts. These include boosting education on cancer screening and disparities, increasing mobile screening capabilities, improving access to care in rural communities, donating sunscreen to schools, helping patients and families navigate cancer care, and providing funding for American Cancer Society Hope Lodges. Additional initiatives support research into treatments and cures for pediatric, breast and lung cancers.
Across the board, Cancer Moonshot partners are ramping up for another robust year in the fight to end cancer. And as Carnival told the Moffitt crowd on Friday: “We’re just getting started.”