The CEO Roundtable on Cancer (CEORT) and the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) are joining forces to bring President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot to communities that have been marginalized by discrimination and poverty through the Cancer Stage Shifting Initiative (CSSI). CSSI is envisioned as a public/private collaboration to redress cancer inequities that have been fostered by public policies.

The Cancer Moonshot was launched by then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in 2016. The Cancer Moonshot was inspired by the spirit of the “moonshot,” which refers to President John F. Kennedy’s ambitious goal of landing a man on the moon in the 1960s. Following his election as President of the United States in 2020, Biden revived the Cancer Moonshot as part of his broader healthcare agenda.

The Cancer Moonshot focuses on several key areas, including:

  • Reducing deaths from cancer by fifty percent over the next 25 years;
  • Enhancing cancer prevention and early detection methods;
  • Expanding the understanding of cancer through improved data sharing and collaboration;
  • Accelerating the development and approval of new cancer therapies;
  • Improving patient access to cancer treatments and care;
  • Enhancing the development and use of immunotherapies and combination therapies; and
  • Supporting the development of precision medicine approaches to cancer treatment.

President Joe Biden’s renewed commitment to a Cancer Moonshot presents a unique opportunity to address the persistent disparities in cancer care that have disproportionately affected historically underserved and marginalized populations, especially those facing economic challenges. Many historically marginalized communities across the country live in neighborhoods where pollutants in the air, water, and soil increase residents’ risk of cancer. These same areas also often lack essential medical services, which results in increased incidence and delayed diagnosis of cancer.

The mission of CSSI is to end inequities in cancer care by moving medical standards in underserved communities from late-stage to early-stage detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer; improving cancer care, and reducing the incidence of cancer deaths for all. Taking dead aim at public policies that have effectively caused a maldistribution of cancer care resources, CSSI will undertake community-based studies that align cancer care clinical protocols with payment models to reduce inequities in care.

“We are at a real crossroads with cancer care in America,” said Gary Puckrein, NMQF President and CEO. “After decades of work and collaboration, there has been substantial progress in cancer treatment, screening, diagnosis, and prevention. Scientific advances are delivering the tools that are enabling us to begin writing the last chapter of the war on cancer. The writing, however, will not be completed until we learn how to bring those discoveries to every American neighborhood.”

NMQF and CEORT will also incorporate best practices learned through CEORT programs, including the CEO Cancer Gold Standard® workplace accreditation program and the Going for Gold partnership with minority-serving institutions.

“NMQF has done tremendous work in documenting how decades of public policy have increased the risk of cancer in these cities and towns throughout the country,” said MaryLisabeth Rich, President of CEORT. “We are honored to work together with them to help address these inequities and improve the well-being of the people who live in these communities.”

When President John F. Kennedy announced his commitment to sending Americans to the moon, he was once asked why he wanted to undertake such an initiative. His answer was succinct: “an unwillingness to postpone.”

“We launch the CSSI in that same spirit and believe we owe that same level of commitment to long-suffering communities,” said Puckrein. “Our government was organized to conserve life, and that life is equal, inherent, and inalienable to each individual. By coming together, we take the next step in the journey to perfect the American dream. Ending cancer care inequities is not just a moral obligation, it is also a contractual one, a promise we made to each other that is embodied in our Declaration of Independence. And so, we begin writing the last chapter on the bipartisan, intergenerational battle against cancer through a public/private initiative, CSSI, to bring the Cancer Moonshot to every American neighborhood.”

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