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

As Cancer Diagnoses Are Estimated to Reach an All-Time High, Cancer Advocates Call on the President to Increase Federal Funding in the Fight Against Cancer and Finalize FDA Menthol Rule

March 7, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C.— March 7, 2024 —Ahead of  President Biden’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 for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) as well as prevention program funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, ACS CAN is urging the president to finalize the Food and Drug Administration’s rule prohibiting the sale of menthol in cigarettes without delay. 

Significant federal investment in medical research and prevention is essential to achieve the president’s ambitious Cancer Moonshot goal of significantly reducing cancer incidence and deaths in the next 25 years, particularly as cancer incidence rates are expected to reach an all-time high this year.  

“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 Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society and ACS CAN. “We are making incredible strides against the over 200 diseases that we call cancer. But this progress and future breakthroughs are at risk if we let up on our commitment to pass policies we know are proven to reduce cancer mortality rates and give everyone a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, treat and survive 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 to be able to fully fund the groundbreaking ideas researchers are proposing and provide incentives for ambitious young researchers to continue their lifesaving work here in the United States.

If we are to meet the president’s moonshot goal, we must also prioritize cancer prevention. Programs like the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and other cancer screening and prevention programs within CDC are proven, lifesaving programs and need adequate funding. Further, with 30% of all cancer deaths due to smoking, the president must meaningfully address tobacco use. This means finalizing proposed FDA rules to end the sale of menthol in cigarettes and all flavors in cigars.  

"Flavors like menthol have been proven to make it easier to start and harder to quit using deadly tobacco products,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “The FDA has stated that a comprehensive end to the sale of menthol cigarettes is projected to result in 324,000 to 654,000 fewer smoking-related deaths. ACS CAN stands ready to work with the administration to support implementation of the FDA’s rules and urges President Biden to act without further delay." 

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.