ENC doctor explains how realistic Biden’s pursuit of ending cancer is

ENC doctor explains how realistic Biden’s pursuit of ending cancer is
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 8:15 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - President Biden called for the nation Monday to “end cancer as we know it” in his administration’s Cancer Moonshot initiative on the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s famous speech.

Evoking JFK’s historic “moonshot” speech, Biden called for our own generation’s ‘moonshot’: the fight against cancer.

According to Dr. Emmanuel Zervos, ECU Cancer Services executive director, Eastern Carolina has a higher cancer mortality rate than the rest of the state. On average, the East sees about 4,000 new cases a year across the system.

“We see the incidents of cancer going up every year and that’s attributable to an aging population,” Zervos said. “And people are not dying of the normal things they were dying of in the past. So, in Eastern North Carolina, that meant cardiovascular disease.”

In 2022, the American Cancer Society estimates that 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed and more than 600,000 people will die of cancer diseases.

Biden hopes that reigniting Cancer Moonshot, a cancer research initiative established in 2016, sets the nation closer to cutting U.S. cancer fatalities in half over the next 25 years while also improving the lives of caregivers and patients themselves, a goal he set in February.

“We’ve seen mortality improve here in Eastern North Carolina and we attribute that to more screening,” Zervos said. “Prevention and early detection primarily. And I think if that occurs on a more national level, we will see improvement. 50 percent? I don’t know. That’s pretty lofty.”

He hopes his speech will bring attention to a new federally-backed study that uses blood tests to screen against multiple cancers in hopes that there is earlier detection.

Unlike Kennedy’s space program, Biden’s moonshot reboot does not have more funding than it did when it started in 2016. It’s reliant on private sector investment.

“Cancer does not discriminate, red and blue. It doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat,” Biden said. “Beating cancer is something we can do together, and that’s why I’m here today.”

Biden and Eastern Carolina still continue to invest in the public’s fight against cancer. According to Zervos, cancer mortality in the East has decreased since they expanded their reach from 29 to 31 counties.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in America. It follows heart disease.

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