Feb. 2 (Gephardt Daily/UPI) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday will announce that he’s reviving an effort to fight cancer, which he began when he was vice president, and unveil a plan to reduce cancer deaths in the United States by 50% within 25 years, the White House said.
The announcement comes six years after Biden, then Vice President, visited Utah to bring the same kind of urgent message to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City.
Biden launched the Cancer Moonshot initiative in 2016 as vice president under President Barack Obama, not long after his son Beau died of brain cancer.
“We’re calling it a ‘Moonshot,’ and that’s because I believe that this effort, like President (John) Kennedy’s call to land on the moon 55 years ago, is truly a call to humankind — to be bold and do big things,” Biden said at the time.
The White House said Wednesday that the time is right to resurrect the ambitious goal with improvements in cancer therapeutics, diagnostics and patient-driven care, along with scientific advances and public health lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two main goals of the initiative are the cut in cancer deaths by 2047 and improving the experience of people living with and surviving cancer. Biden is scheduled to make the announcement at 1:30 p.m. EST Wednesday.
“It’s now possible to set ambitious goals: to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years, and improve the experience of people and their families living with and surviving cancer — and, by doing this and more, end cancer as we know it today,” the White House said in a statement.
“Starting in the early 1990s, we also made progress against tobacco use through targeted public health education campaigns as well as new, more effective approaches to smoking cessation. We have seen a 50% decrease in adult long-term cigarette smoking and a 68% drop in smoking rates among youth.”
Officials said the age-adjusted death rate from cancer has fallen by about 25% over the past two decades, which means that people are beating cancer and living longer.
“Science brought us treatments that target specific mutations in many types of cancer — for example, in certain types of lung cancer, leukemia, and skin cancers,” the White House added.
“It has also provided therapies that use our immune system to detect and kill cancer cells and these immunotherapies are making a big difference in certain skin cancers, blood cancers, and others.”
Ellen Sigal, founder of Friends of Cancer Research, called Biden’s new cancer push “audacious” — but told The New York Times that she has “no doubt there will be mechanisms to achieve them.”
“The original moonshot demonstrated that it was possible to compress a decade’s worth of progress into a few short years. We can’t afford to not take that opportunity a reality again,” she said.