According to a recent White House press release, President Biden has relaunched his Cancer Moonshot initiative with the goal of “Ending cancer as we know it.”

The President aspires to cut cancer rates in half over the next 25 years.

The initiative includes seven elements: expediting cancer detection and diagnosis processes; limiting environmental exposures to cancer; addressing health inequities; targeting individualized cancer treatments (offering personalized plans of care); accelerating strategies to counter aggressive cancers; supporting cancer-patient caregivers and cancer survivors; and compiling patient data in a secure and straightforward format to create a diverse, comprehensively represented cancer-learning system.

National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Ned Sharpless identified the Cancer Moonshot as “a bold but achievable goal” in an interview with Bloomberg Health Law & Business.

Sharpless then emphasized the importance of understanding both access and barriers to care, and how outcomes are consequently shaped: “If we can take populations that have poor outcomes in cancer and work against those disparities, so that all Americans have similar good outcomes with cancer, as opposed to the stark inequities that exist, that would be a huge effect on cancer mortality at a population level.”

As morally enticing as the recharged initiative sounds, the funding imperative is left unspecified.

Nicholas Freudenberg of Stat states: “In the absence of a plan to get congressional approval, this moonshot is an appealing vision, not a practical plan.” Freudenberg also pointed out the semantic paradox of the “moonshot” nomenclature noting: “The moonshot metaphor also encourages scientists, policymakers, advocates, and businesses who appeal for public and private funds to support the effort to exaggerate its successes and prematurely claim seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.”