We applaud President Obama for addressing the need for more focused cancer research efforts through a new moonshot approach during his final State of the Union address yesterday, Jan. 12, 2016.

The moonshot approach was explained as an American-led effort to cure cancer, spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son to a brain tumor in 2015. Brain cancer, along with pancreatic cancer and several others, are among the deadliest cancers in the U.S.

“For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. Medical research is critical,” said President Obama.

Today, Biden shared more about the moonshot approach, explaining it as an opportunity “to seize this moment. To accelerate our efforts to progress towards a cure, and to unleash new discoveries and breakthroughs for other deadly diseases.”

Specifically, Biden shared that the goal of the initiative is to double the rate of progress and to make a decade worth of advances in five years. Biden plans to do so by focusing on:

  • Increasing resources — both private and public — to fight cancer.
  • Breaking down silos and bringing all the cancer fighters together — to combine their efforts, share information, and end cancer as we know it.

This initiative aligns with our Deadliest Cancers Coalition, established in 2008 with 21 other national patient advocacy organizations and professional societies. The goal of this group is to encourage Congress and federal government leaders to address policy and funding issues related to our nation’s most lethal cancers, defined as those that have a five-year relative survival rates below 50 percent.

The initiative also aligns with our work to double pancreatic cancer survival by 2020.

In December, Congress approved a $2.2 billion (6.6 percent) increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health, being the agency’s largest increase since 2003. Noting the heavy toll cancer takes on families as well as the economy, lawmakers voted to provide $5.2 billion for the National Cancer Institute

We are proud of the work our organization, our advocates and our volunteers did to advocate for this increase, as well as their support of the Deadliest Cancers Coalition. But, we, together with the national government, have much more to do.

According to statistics released this month, pancreatic cancer surpassed breast cancer to become the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Though the five-year survival rate increased slightly, it remains in the single digits at only 8 percent*.

We are committed to improving patient outcomes and doubling survival by 2020.

To do so, we will continue our research investment and support of other novel initiatives like Clinical Trial Finder, Know Your TumorSM and the newly launched Patient Registry.

To join our efforts, please visit www.pancan.org.
*Rates are adjusted for normal life expectancy and are based on cases diagnosed in the SEER 9 areas from 2005 to 2011, followed through 2012.