Biden to reignite Cancer Moonshot program to reduce cancer deaths by 50%

Feb. 3, 2022

In a press briefing Wednesday, February 2, President Biden spoke about the past 50 years since Congress and President Nixon signed into law the National Cancer Act and declared war on cancer. 

In the first 25 years since the National Cancer Act, the death rate from cancer was largely unchanged.  Then things began to change.  The progress over the last 25 years — the death rate has fallen by more than 25 percent. However, the president pointed out that despite the progress of lives extended and lives saved, cancer is still the number-two cause of death in America, second only to heart disease.The COVID-19 pandemic has taken more than 800,000 American lives in the last two years.  But in that same period of time, cancer has claimed 1.2 million American lives year in and year out. 

The goal is to cut the cancer death rate in half in the next 25 years — at least by 50 percent — and to turn more cancers from death sentences into chronic diseases that people can live with; to create a more supportive experience for patients and their families; and, by doing these things and more, to end cancer as we know it.

Within those broad parameters, there are seven key areas of focus: emphasizing prevention — such as through screenings or, perhaps, vaccines; diagnosing cancer earlier; addressing disparities in cancer outcomes by emphasizing prevention; figuring out why treatments work in some patients but not others; improving patient navigation services; and learning from patients’ experiences, a senior administration official explained during a call with reporters.To target the right treatments to the right patients, we’re learning more about how to use genetics, immune response, and other factors to tell which combinations of treatments that are likely to work best for a particular individual.To address inequities, we can target prevention, detection, and treatment efforts so that all Americans — whether they’re urban, rural, or Tribal communities — have equal access to cancer diagnostics, therapeutics, clinical trials.   

As part of Bidens presidential priority he announced some new programs: 

  • A new Cancer Cabinet will convene in the coming weeks, to include members of the Cabinet.  They’ll drive a whole-of-government effort to unleash every possibility within their power, within their jurisdictions 
  •  The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, led by senior scientist and advisor, Dr. Eric Lander will chart the path for the Cancer Moonshot for 2022 and beyond. 
  • Congress to fund my proposed ARPA-H — the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health.  This will be a new kind of entity within the National Institute of Health with autonomy and authorities to drive unprecedented progress in biomedicine. It’s based on DARPA -the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Project Agency - that has led to breakthrough technologies that protect our national security — from the Internet, to GPS, and so much more. 
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency For Health (ARPA-H) will have a singular purpose: to drive breakthroughs to prevent, detect, and treat diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, and other diseases.

Biden said he is also calling on the scientific and medical communities to bring the boldest thinking to this fight, including the private sector to develop and test new treatments, make drugs more affordable, and share more data and knowledge that can inform the public and benefit every company’s research.

Whitehouse briefing