Public health deans warn cancer 'moonshot' overlooks prevention

Dozens of leading public health experts are voicing concerns about Vice President Biden’s “moonshot” bid to speed up the fight against cancer, which they say needs to focus more on prevention.

“While curative treatments often appear more exciting to the public, investments in public health and prevention research hold even more promise for both short- and long-term reductions in cancer incidence and mortality rates,” about 70 public health deans wrote in a letter Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT
The letter comes from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, which includes the heads of the New York Medical College and Yale School of Public Health.

They warned that Biden’s initiative “may be undervaluing” the role of prevention for reducing the prevalence of cancer nationwide.

“Developing cancer cures is essential, but controlling cancer is also a policy and public health challenge. We must operate on both fronts,” they wrote.

They wrote that prevention efforts have been proven to have a greater impact in reducing the number of cancer deaths nationwide than new treatments, specifically citing the national push to reduce smoking and to increase screenings like colonoscopies.

President Obama proposed $1 billion to accelerate a cure for cancer during his State of the Union address — calling for the largest-ever federal investment in fighting cancer.

Still, oncologists and researchers have acknowledged that even if that effort is fully funded, it would be far from enough. The cost of bringing one new drug to market is $2.6 billion, according to research from Tufts University in 2014.