Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Will ‘Reenergize Fight Against Cancer,’ Expert Says

Institution Partners | Cancer Centers | <b>Hackensack Meridian John Theurer Cancer Center</b>

As the number of cancer diagnoses continues to rise in the United States, the relaunch of President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot is needed now more than ever, explained an expert at Hackensack Meridian John Theurer Cancer Center.

With the relaunch of the Cancer Moonshot came a new goal for the initiative: reduce cancer mortality by 50% over the next 25 years, something that is “ambitious, but critically important,” according to Dr. Andre H. Goy.

Goy, physician in chief at Hackensack Meridian Health Oncology Care Transformation Service and chairman and chief physician officer at the John Theurer Cancer Center, recently spoke with CURE® about why refocused efforts on improving cancer care are more needed than ever before.

“Cancer incidence will increase by about 50% in the next 20 years, per (the American Cancer Society), with one in two men and one in three women who will deal with cancer in their lifetime,” Goy said. “Though the mortality has improved overall, between the incidence and the aging population, the mortality will continue to expand, and we already are at 1,700 patient deaths per day in the U.S.”

Goy explained that a contributing factor to cancer-related deaths is that many cancers are diagnosed at late stages, with some not having routine screening tests. “Essentially 100% of stage 0 (cancers) are curable,” Goy said. “So developing early detection and intervention will be one of the best ways to improve outcomes and reduce the burden of cancer overall.”

As patients and their loved ones know, a cancer diagnosis brings major disruptions to family life and finances, Goy said, noting that cancer leads to more than $16 billion in patient out-of-pocket costs each year. Certain patients face even more of a burden, as research has shown that racial or gender minorities and people with lower socioeconomic status often lack proper or timely access to care and innovation — an issue that Goy said the Cancer Moonshot must address.

In early February, when President Biden announced the reignited Cancer Moonshot, he, too focused on these issues.

“Here’s what we’re fighting,” Biden said. “What cancer looks like today is a disease where we often diagnose it too late. We have too few effective ways to prevent it, and stark inequalities based on racial disparities, zip codes, sexual orientation, gender identity and other factors still exist.”

Goy said that improving screening and decreasing disparities is a critical goal, but one that still needs dollars behind it.

“This new effort — which still needs matching funding announcement — creates a conversation that will re-energize the fight against cancer,” he said.

While Goy said that cancer progress is slow, there are still landmark changes that have come in recent years, improving and extending the lives of those diagnosed affected by the disease.

“A renewed effort against cancer is very timely, as cancer and medicine, in general, is undergoing a true revolution, form the unprecedented pace of innovation in science and technology to the ever-expanding novel therapies… in particular, immunotherapy, cell therapy and targeted therapies,” Goy said, noting that Moonshot will only continue to help these developments.

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