President Joe Biden is relaunching the cancer “moonshot” initiative, in a bid to slash cancer rates in half over the next 25 years. A lofty goal, indeed, for the president—and also a deeply personal one.

He lost his elder son, Beau, to brain cancer in 2015. Yet the rollout comes without any new funding elements at a time when the gains from new research can be uneven, such that Biden is setting an aspiration for the country more than 50 years after President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act and launched a war on the disease. The benefits of that act were seen recently in areas outside of cancer as well as vaccines that were developed for the coronavirus.

The pain experienced by Biden is shared by many Americans. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 1,918,030 new cancer cases and 609,360 cancer deaths this year. What the president is aiming to do is essentially save more than 300,000 lives annually from the disease, something the administration believes is possible because the age-adjusted death rate has already fallen by roughly 25% over the past two decades. The cancer death rate is currently 146 per 100,000 people, down from nearly 200 in 2000.

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