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Washington Examiner – State of the Union 2023: Biden to re-up Cancer Moonshot

Washington Examiner – State of the Union 2023: Biden to re-up Cancer Moonshot

President Joe Biden will use his State of the Union speech to unveil additional actions in the fight against cancer as part of the administration’s revived “Cancer Moonshot” initiative, which has a goal of cutting the death rate from cancer by 50% over the next 25 years.

Biden will call on Congress to reauthorize the decades-old National Cancer Act to update and secure additional funding for the country’s cancer research and care systems, take steps to ensure patient navigation services are covered by insurance, as well as preview new policies to reduce smoking rates in the U.S.

“The reauthorization will update the nation’s cancer research and care systems to put modern American innovation fully to work to end cancer as we know it,” the administration wrote in a fact sheet previewing Biden’s speech. “This includes standing up clinical trial networks, creating new data systems that break down silos, and ensuring that knowledge gained through research is available to as many experts as possible, so we can find answers faster and make a difference for patients.”

The National Cancer Act was first signed into law in 1971 by President Richard Nixon. It was meant to represent the country’s commitment to reducing cancer death rates by establishing the National Cancer Institute that leads and conducts cancer research. Biden is expected to push for additional investments for cancer research, as the $1.8 billion in funding earmarked in the 21st Century Cures Act from 2016 runs low.

The administration is also preparing action aimed at preventing people from starting to smoke, especially young people, and supporting those that want to quit smoking. The information sheet claims that the actions could “prevent as much as 30 percent of cancer deaths in this country, saving up to 130,000 American lives, annually.” Tobacco use remains the leading cause of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Biden will outline steps in his speech to ensure that patient navigation services, processes that help individuals and caretakers go through cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment, are covered benefits under insurance.

Cancer Moonshot has been a personal mission for Biden, whose son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015, and a hallmark initiative of his time in the White House. It was launched in 2016 when he was vice president to accelerate the progress against cancer and then was reignited last year. Earlier this month, Biden announced new public-private partnerships directed at cancer care and prevention to mark the first anniversary since reviving the initiative.

Cancer deaths have been steadily declining long before Cancer Moonshot was launched. Deaths from cancer have decreased by 2.3% every year between 2016 and 2019, according to a report published last year by the American Association for Cancer Research. The report cited the sharp decline in smoking rates from 1965 to 2020 as a contributing factor, along with new cancer medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration in recent years.

Biden’s Cancer Moonshot has spurred new innovation in cancer research; though, without funding, experts have suggested that the initiative’s lofty goals will remain out of reach.

Ellen Sigal, chairwoman of Friends of Cancer Research, told Politico the administration’s goals are reachable but need “funding mechanisms to achieve them.”