Feb. 3, 2022 -- The Cancer Moon Shot is about to be relaunched.
In a White House briefing, President Joe Biden announced that he is “reigniting” the initiative that he spearheaded when he was vice-president during the Obama administration.
Biden discussed his plans to bring a "fierce sense of urgency" to the fight against cancer and better support to cancer patients and their families.
At present, there are few details about the new program or how it will be funded, but the president did not announce new spending.
Biden emphasized that cancer is one of the truly bipartisan issues in Congress, There there is strong support from both “sides of the aisle,” and so he sees this as an issue that can bring the country together.
“We can do this. I promise you, we can do this. For all those we lost, for all those we miss. We can end cancer as we know it," said President Biden.
The aim is to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years.
One of the efforts will be directed to get people back to routine cancer screenings, like mammograms and colonoscopies, with a special focus on ensuring equitable access.
Biden also renewed his earlier also a proposal to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), which would focus on driving cutting edge innovation in health research.
Part of the plan is also to assemble a “Cancer Cabinet” that includes 18 federal departments, agencies and offices, including leaders from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, Defense, Energy and Agriculture.
Presumably more will be revealed at the Cancer Moonshot Summit that is now being planned, as well as on a planned new website where people can keep track of its progress.
The cancer moonshot began back in 2016, when, during his last State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama announced the ambitious initiative. A few days later, Obama asked Congress for $1 billion to fund the program, and he put Biden, who had recently lost a son to brain cancer, in charge of "mission control" in the remaining months of the administration. The new initiative will be headed by Danielle Carnival, PhD, who serves in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and who has now been appointed as the White House Cancer Moonshot coordinator.
At the briefing, Biden and vice-president Kamala Harris both spoke about losing family members to cancer. Biden spoke about his eldest son Beau, who died from brain cancer when he was 46 years old, while Harris spoke about her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, who was a breast cancer researcher, and who died of colon cancer in 2009.
Accolades But a Bit of Caution
The president’s speech was applauded by many cancer groups, both professional organizations and patient advocacy groups.
Karen E. Knudsen, MD, CEO of the American Cancer Society, commended Biden for reigniting the moonshot.
“In 2022 alone, there will be an estimated 1.9 million people diagnosed with cancer and more than 600,000 people in the U.S. will die. Marshalling the resources of the federal government will be critical in our ability to reduce death and suffering from this disease,” she commented.
At the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), CEO Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), said that she was thrilled to hear this historic announcement, after the devastating interruptions in cancer research and patient care over the past two years.
“The reignited Cancer Moonshot will provide an important framework to help improve cancer prevention strategies, increase cancer screenings and early detection, reduce cancer disparities, and propel new lifesaving cures for patients with cancer,” she commented.
However, increased funding from Congress will be needed for these goals to be achieved, she emphasized.