ASTRO Applauds Relaunch of Cancer Moonshot

By News Release


President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have relaunched the White House's Cancer Moonshot initiative, promising to commit to working toward reducing the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years. President Biden also named Dr. Danielle Carnival, who serves in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, as the White House Cancer Moonshot coordinator.

The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) issued the following statement from ASTRO Board of Directors Chair Laura A. Dawson, MD, FASTRO, in response to today's announcement that President Joe Biden will reignite the Cancer Moonshot initiative to accelerate the rate of progress in the nation's fight against cancer:

"On behalf of radiation oncologists who treat people with cancer every day, we support the Biden-Harris administration's move to drastically reduce the number of cancer deaths in the United States and improve the lives of people diagnosed with this disease. We believe the administration’s commitment to expand cancer prevention efforts and to increase equitable access to screenings and treatments will help mitigate some of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. ASTRO and the radiation oncology community stand ready to work with the Administration to realize these goals.

In the past two decades, bipartisan support for the cancer care community contributed to averting nearly three million deaths in the U.S., but the COVID-19 pandemic upended nearly all aspects of this important work. Clinical trials were halted, screening and treatments were delayed, and resources were diverted from research that leads to a reduction in cancer mortality. The numbers of cancer cases and deaths in the U.S. are expected to rise due to the sharp decline in screenings during the pandemic, driving the need for a comprehensive federal response to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on cancer research and patient care.

In a 2021 ASTRO national survey of radiation oncologists, 66% said their patients are being diagnosed with more advanced-stage cancers, and 73% said they noticed missed screenings among their patients. These rates may be even higher for racial and ethnic minority groups, who face disproportionate burdens regarding both COVID-19 and cancer. Multiple studies show that inequitable access is driving disparate outcomes. Today's announcement highlights the critical need for multidisciplinary collaboration and prioritization of cancer research and screening to reverse these alarming trends.

The radiation oncology community shares President Biden's goals of ending cancer as we know it today and bolstering research funding so that the lives of people with cancer and their families improve."

ASTRO is pleased that the Administration recognized the critical role radiation oncology plays in the fight against cancer by inviting Karen M. Winkfield, MD, PhD, a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board and a leading expert in radiation oncology, cancer disparities and community engagement, to participate in today’s White House event.

ASTRO and other members of the Once Voice Against Cancer coalition sent a letter to Congressional leadership yesterday calling for swift passage of a fiscal year 2022 spending package that includes strong support for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).