President Biden is reviving the program he headed as vice president, with the goal of reducing the cancer mortality rate and improving the experience of patients and their loved ones.
President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday1 that his administration is relaunching the Cancer Moonshot program that was initially created during Biden’s term as vice president under President Barack Obama.
The goal of the Cancer Moonshot was to accelerate scientific discovery in cancer, foster greater collaboration, and improve the sharing of data. Biden was tasked to lead this effort in 2016 because of his personal connection to the issue: his son Beau Biden died from brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.
“For Joe and me, [cancer] has stolen our joy,” First Lady Jill Biden said at an event to reignite the initiative. “It left us broken in our grief. But through that pain, we found purpose, strengthening our fortitude for this fight to end cancer as we know it.”
The White House announced that the Moonshot is setting ambitious goals: to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years and to improve the experience of people and their families living with and surviving cancer. The ultimate goal is to end cancer “as we know it today.”
Actions that will help drive toward meeting these goals are:
“A cancer diagnosis today may still leave us feeling hopeless, but we are not hopeless and we are not helpless,” Jill Biden said. “We are living in a golden age of research and discovery. We can end this terror, and all of us have a role to play.”
The Bidens also announced a call to action on cancer screening. During the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a documented drop in cancer screenings, which has resulted in cancers being diagnosed at later stages and more complex treatments needed. While there was a rebound in cancer screenings in 2021, the level of screenings did not rebound back to pre-pandemic levels.
The Innovation and Value Initiative (IVI) applauded the administration’s relaunch. “As a non-profit organization dedicated to building effective learning health systems, we are heartened by the Administration’s goal to ‘learn from all patients’ and to ‘turn our cancer care system into a learning system,’” the organization released in a statement. “These important goals can only be achieved by putting patients at the center of clinical and health economic research endeavors — principles that drive all of IVI’s work. We hope the Biden Administration will use this opportunity to not just talk about patient-centered healthcare but to introduce real incentives to foster change in practice and in research.”
The American Cancer Society (ACS) also voiced its support of the president putting a national focus on cancer. Karen E. Knudsen, Ph.D., MBA, CEO of ACS and the ACS Cancer Action Network, noted that an estimated 1.9 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2022 with more than 600,000 people who will die from it.
“We can directly track declines in overall cancer death rates to investment in research, advocacy and direct patient support,” Knudsen said in a statement. She added, “Marshalling the resources of the federal government will be critical in our ability to reduce death and suffering from this disease.”