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This month, coinciding with the 60th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s famous moonshot speech, President Biden reconfirmed his Administration’s commitment to the Cancer Moonshot, a multi-faceted initiative aimed at reducing cancer deaths in America by 50%. There has been progress over the last twenty years, especially with cancer deaths declining by 25%. The Administration aims to dramatically accelerate that progress by investing in new cutting-edge research, advancing biotechnology and biomanufacturing, and increasing cancer screening.

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance strongly supports this initiative and applauds the Administration for making cancer research a top priority. Included in the initiative is the establishment of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). This agency will be able to address critical research gaps and fund more high-risk, high-reward projects that are generally outside the scope of existing federal research. We are particularly pleased that the President addressed the problem that cancer screening declined significantly during the COVID pandemic and the need for Americans to take this potentially life-saving step.

We assume that the President’s proposed 2024 budget will include increases in research funding for the ARPA-H, the NIH, and the Department of Defense. With these increases, the Alliance calls on the Administration to direct these agencies to more appropriately allocate the new funding to achieve the Cancer Moonshot’s goals.

It seems logical if you seek to reduce cancer deaths you would place more emphasis on the deadliest forms of cancers. This is not how the government currently allocates research funding. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, yet it invests more in every other form of cancer per incident except for lung cancer. Currently, the country invests $4,310 in research dollars per colorectal cancer fatality. Compare this to melanoma, for which we spend $16,547 per fatality. To be clear, we in no way suggest reducing funding for any form of cancer. We do contend that additional funding should better reflect the goal of the Cancer Moonshot, reducing cancer deaths.

The Alliance is writing to President Biden expressing our strong support for the Cancer Moonshot, including efforts to increase the colorectal cancer screening rate after the pandemic decline. We will also highlight the disparities in research resource allocation and recommend that as part of new funding, the ARPA-H, the NIH, and the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense consider the mortality rates of various forms of cancer in research dollar allocation. In this way, these agencies will more closely align with the primary goals of the Cancer Moonshot.

Photo: White House Flickr


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