By Betsy Klein, CNN
The White House is convening leaders from across President Joe Biden’s administration, the private sector, academia and the health care industry on Wednesday for a Cancer Moonshot Goals Forum, highlighting efforts toward reducing cancer-related deaths and improving patient outcomes overall.
The goal of the forum, the White House said in a fact sheet obtained first by CNN, “is to identify impactful steps to: (1) improve cancer screening; (2) enhance prevention; (3) address inequities; (4) target effective treatments to patients; (5) develop approaches for deadly and rare cancers, including childhood cancers; (6) support patients, survivors, and caregivers; and (7) learn more from people living with cancer.”
Wednesday’s forum will include a series of new commitments from partner organizations as well as a $5 million investment from the US Department of Health and Human Services aimed at increasing accessibility to cancer screenings through community health centers.
“In partnership with National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers, we are giving community health centers in underserved communities funding to provide life-saving cancer detection and referrals to treatment. As we continue to support President Biden’s mission to end cancer as we know it, equity must be at the center of all that we do so that we can remove barriers to care,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
Also included are a $25 million commitment for cancer prevention programs from the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, and other new detection partnerships across the country, from a mobile lung cancer screening program in South Florida to bilingual cancer navigation services in the Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, DC, area.
Cancer remains the second-highest cause of death in the US, according to HHS, but there has been some progress. Cancer mortality rates have been dropping for nearly two decades, aided by “major progress” in the early detection and treatment options for lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society’s annual report on cancer statistics, published earlier this year.
The overall cancer death rate dropped by about a third (32%) from its peak in 1991 to 2019, from about 215 deaths for every 100,000 people to about 146, averting about 3.5 million deaths during that time, according to the data. Most of that decline can be attributed to a drop in mortality among lung cancer patients.
The forum is also an effort to highlight a component of Biden’s agenda that has bipartisan support, part of the “unity agenda” he laid out during his State of the Union address. Biden created a “Cancer Cabinet,” including members from across the administration such as Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy chief Alondra Nelson and acting science adviser to the President Dr. Francis Collins.
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CNN’s Deirdre McPhillips contributed to this report.