Biden set his 'moonshot' on cancer. Meet the doctor trying to get us there
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"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."
When it comes to curing cancer, President Joe Biden is shifting that sentiment into full throttle. And one person is taking up the challenge.
Who is she? Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, the director of the National Cancer Institute.
What's the big deal? Since serving as vice president, Biden has touted a plan he calls his "cancer moonshot." The plan aims to cut the cancer death rate in the United States by at least 50% over the next 25 years.
Great to swear in @NCIDirector Dr. Monica Bertagnolli – already off to a great start – and to thank @NCIDrDougLowy for his work as acting director.— Secretary Xavier Becerra (@SecBecerra) October 14, 2022
Cancer knows no bounds & neither should our efforts to prevent cancer deaths. Together, we'll advance @POTUS’ Cancer Moonshot. pic.twitter.com/sswKOMtN2R
What are people saying?
Biden, in his State of the Union address earlier this month:
"It's personal for so many of us.
For the lives we can save and for the lives we have lost, let this be a truly American moment that rallies the country and the world together and proves that we can do big things.
Let's end cancer as we know it and cure some cancers once and for all."
Bertagnolli, on how getting people to stop smoking has impacted cancer rates:
"That has dramatically reduced mortality and incidence of cancer, if you talk about sheer numbers. That really has been amazing. For the rest, there have been some truly dramatic new treatments like immunotherapy ... [and] some other new targeted therapies have been very exciting for particularly the diseases like melanoma and lung cancer in some of the tissues of of the blood. But those are really very powerful for individual, smaller groups of patients. Where the thing that truly has made a huge difference in terms of absolute numbers, the single biggest thing has been having people stop smoking."
Bertagnolli, when asked about the personal financial costs of cancer treatments to patients:
"We're a research institute. We're focused on research. So what we can do is we can determine what's the best treatment, what's the most effective treatment that can hopefully minimize health care cost to doing that treatment. We can also help identify what's the best way to deliver care in the community so that it's very efficient. But then I think this is part of what President Biden is talking about. We're not going to solve the problem without the rest of the government and the rest of society stepping up to solve problems like this one."
So, what now?
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