Biden to Present Plan to Cut Cancer Death Rate in Half

Biden to Present Plan to Cut Cancer Death Rate in Half

Senior administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday evening that the White House would not be announcing any new funding commitments, but insisted that there would be “robust funding going forward.” Mr. Biden called on Congress to appropriate money to create a health research initiative modeled on the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA.

The White House billed the event as a fresh push by the president to “reignite” the moonshot program and “end cancer as we know it.” Specifically, Mr. Biden set a goal of cutting the age-adjusted death rate by more than half over the next 25 years. But there were few specifics about how that goal would be achieved.

“These are audacious goals, and I have no doubt there will be mechanisms to achieve them,” said Ellen V. Sigal, the founder of Friends of Cancer Research, which works to support cancer research and deliver new therapies to patients, who was briefed on the plan.

Mr. Biden has already named Danielle Carnival, who worked on the moonshot program during the Obama administration, to help oversee the new version of the effort. Now, the president said, the “cancer cabinet” will coordinate the work of multiple government agencies.

The White House says more than 9.5 million cancer screenings were missed in the United States as a result of the pandemic. Mr. Biden is calling on the cancer institute, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, to coordinate with cancer treatment centers to offer screenings around the country, and to develop a program to fast-track the development of tests that can detect multiple types of cancer at once.

The new blood tests that are said to detect all cancers are still unproven and there are currently no plans to do the sort of very large studies that could determine if they actually prevent deaths and are not harming people with unnecessary treatment. But companies interested in them were thrilled with Mr. Biden’s announcement.

New Developments in Cancer Research

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Progress in the field. In recent years, advancements in research have changed the way cancer is treated. Here are some recent updates:

Chemotherapy. A quiet revolution is underway in the field of cancer treatment: A growing number of patients, especially those with breast and lung cancers, are being spared the dreaded treatment in favor of other options.

Leukemia. After receiving a new treatment, called CAR T cell therapy, more than a decade ago, two patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia saw the blood cancer vanish. Their cases offer hope for those with the disease, and create some new mysteries.

Esophageal cancer. Nivolumab, a drug that unleashes the immune system, was found to extend survival times in patients with the disease who took part in a large clinical trial. Esophageal cancer is the seventh most common cancer in the world.

“Making early cancer detection more affordable and accessible, especially for traditionally underserved groups, is the next leap forward in reducing cancer death rates,” Francis deSouza, the chief executive of Illumina, a medical device company, said in a statement.

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