In his final State of the Union address, President Obama announced a national initiative to be coordinated by Vice President Joe Biden that is being referred to as the “cancer moonshot.” The goal is to cure cancer, or at least to make major advances in attempt to better understand cancer, its elements, and how best to defeat the disease. 

Biden’s son, Beau, died from cancer in 2015, and the vice president has said that the experience has had a profound impact on his leadership of the government-wide effort. 

In a memo establishing the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force to address this ambitious and noble aim, President Obama outlined the task force’s goals.

  • Accelerate the understanding of cancer and its prevention, early detection, treatment, and cure.
  • Improve patient access and care.
  • Support greater access to new research, data, and computational capabilities.
  • Encourage development of cancer treatments.
  • Identify and address any unnecessary regulatory barriers and consider ways to expedite administrative reforms.
  • Ensure optimal investment of federal resources
  • Identify opportunities to develop public-private partnerships and increase coordination of the federal government’s efforts with the private sector, as appropriate.

As the Cancer Moonshot moves forward, it is essential that oncology nursing is involved in any initiatives. Oncology nurses are the primary patient care providers at both the treatment and clinical trial level, and their breadth of knowledge will be pivotal in the cancer moonshot program. ONS has issued a statement in support of the program and is eager to work with the vice president on the next steps. 

“Oncology nursing’s role is vital to this moonshot. Through nurses’ focused efforts and treatment of patients, their support of research initiatives, and their help in clinical studies and trial administration, we stand to gain ground on a cure like never before,” Margaret Barton-Burke, PhD, RN, FAAN, ONS president, said. “Together, as a united front, the oncology community of researchers, physicians, and nurses alike, stands to deliver a quantum leap forward on the path to a cure.”