Biden Evokes JFK Moonshot Challenge in Cancer Fight

Initiative aims to cut deaths from the disease in half in 25 years
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2022 7:40 PM CDT
Biden Evokes JFK Moonshot Challenge in Cancer Fight
Ambassador Caroline Kennedy arrives onstage with President Biden on Monday in Boston.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Sixty years to the day after President John F. Kennedy's famous speech about Americans reaching the moon, President Biden delivered an update on his plan to battle cancer that he likens to the challenge issued in 1962. "This cancer moonshot is one of the reasons why I ran for president," Biden said Monday, NPR reports. "Cancer does not discriminate red and blue. It doesn't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat. Beating cancer is something we can do together." Biden delivered the speech at the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston and was introduced by Kennedy's daughter Caroline, the US ambassador to Australia, per ABC News.

Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death is the US, trailing only heart disease. It kills about 600,000 Americans a year in spite of major improvements in detection and treatment, per Yahoo News. And cancer rates are rising around the world among people under age 50. There's much work to be done, Biden said. "We know too little about why treatments work for some patients, but a different patient with the same disease, it doesn't work for," the president said. "We still lack strategies in developing treatments for some cancers." In addition, he said, patients and their families do not receive enough help navigating the health care system. Biden decried inequities in cancer diagnosis and treatment involving race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ZIP code.

Biden stated a goal in February of cutting cancer deaths in half over the next 25 years. At the same time, he created the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, and he appointed Dr. Renee Wegrzyn to run it on Monday. "ARPA-H will have the singular purpose to drive breakthroughs to prevent, detect and treat diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes and other diseases and enable us to live healthier lives," Biden said. He said he plans to sign an executive order to kick off the National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative, which is designed to make sure technology used in the cancer fight is made in the US. (More cancer stories.)

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