State of the Union: An Opportunity to Elevate the Nation’s Commitment to the Cancer Moonshot

Increased Medical Research Funding for NIH, NCI and Funding for CDC Cancer Prevention Programs Should be Top Priorities

February 6, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Ahead of the President’s State of the Union Address, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is calling on the President to emphasize the need for continued bipartisan support for increased federal investment in the fight against cancer, particularly for medical research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), critical cancer prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as continued funding for the Advanced Research Project Agency on Health (ARPA-H).  Continued significant investments in medical research and prevention will be essential to achieve the president’s ambitious Cancer Moonshot goal of significantly reducing cancer incidence and deaths in the next 25 years.

“For decades, cancer research funding has enjoyed strong bipartisan support—and with good reason. Federal cancer research represents American government at its best—saving lives, driving innovation, and fueling economic growth,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN.)  

Federal funding for cancer research and prevention programs has played a role in every major advance against this disease for the last half century. Continued robust investments are essential to maximizing the benefits of past research while also working to continue rapidly accelerating future breakthroughs.

According to American Cancer Society research released in January, overall cancer mortality continues to decline with a 33% drop since 1991, averting an estimated 3.8 million cancer deaths. 

“We are making incredible strides against the 200 diseases that we call cancer. These numbers are proof that when we prioritize cancer policies like continued investments in cancer research and ensuring access to cancer screenings and treatments, we save lives,” said Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society and ACS CAN. “But this progress and future progress is at risk if we let up on our commitment to pass policies proven to reduce suffering and death from cancer.”

Cancer research is one of the most dynamic areas of medical discovery, yet NCI falls significantly short in meeting demand for research grants. As a result, hundreds of potentially promising research projects go unfunded. NCI needs predictable and robust funding year over year to be able to fully fund the groundbreaking ideas researchers are proposing and provide incentives for ambitious young researchers to continue their life saving work here in the United States.

ARPA-H offers the opportunity to build on the basic research that has long been a hallmark of the NCI, by promoting big ideas that illuminate the greatest opportunity to bridge the gap between the lab and the bedside and save more lives from cancer.

“If we are to realize the President’s Moonshot goal, we must continue investments in cancer research and prioritize the full cancer continuum from prevention and screening, to improving treatments through research, improving access to cancer treatments, and helping patients manage symptoms and to thrive in survivorship,” said Lacasse.

To do this, the federal government must prioritize funding for critical cancer prevention programs at CDC and promote access to innovation by creating a pathway to coverage within Medicare for multi-cancer early detection screenings once they are FDA-approved and clinical benefit is shown. Congress must also improve pain and symptom management by supporting legislation to improve patient quality of life and address health disparities by ensuring diversity in clinical trials and removing barriers to prostate cancer screenings and treatments, a disease that disproportionately impacts Black males.

On behalf of families impacted by cancer, ACS CAN calls on President Biden to affirm his commitment once more to the Cancer Moonshot and to urge Congress to work together to end cancer as we know it, for everyone.

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Media Contacts

Emily Burr
Director, Media Advocacy
Washington, D.C.
Alissa Crispino
Senior Vice President, Advocacy Communications and Policy
Washington, D.C.