Nurses and other oncology practitioners may be wondering about the fate of the Cancer Moonshot initiative after a new president occupies the oval office after the November 8 election.
In short, it will continue, though experts are not quite sure how.
"The vice president has committed to this as his life's work, whether that takes place within the government or outside of the government, he is going to continue this work,” said Anabella Aspiras, director for patient engagement for the Moonshot initiative, at the 33rd Annual National Oncology Conference of the Association of Community Cancer Centers in October.
To date, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has remained quiet on the issue, while Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, vowed to support Moonshot if she is elected.
The Cancer Moonshot was started in January of 2016 and is led by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, whose son, Beau, a former Attorney General in Delaware, died of brain cancer in May 2015. The goal of the initiative is to “end cancer as we know it and achieve a decade worth of progress in five years,” said Aspiras.
As President Barack Obama’s presidency is coming to an end, advancements from Moonshot are continuing—seemingly full speed ahead.
Among the many meetings with stakeholders Biden hosted after the initiative was launched earlier this year was a panel in February involving Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN, CEO of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), and ONS president Susan Schneider, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN.
At that session, Nevidjon discussed the need for standardized nomenclature when it comes to identifying and addressing data regarding patient needs, conditions, and outcomes. She noted that while electronic healthcare records can capture clinical data effectively, they are inadequate at capturing the patient experience. “We must never forget that there is a person beyond the data,” Nevidjon said.
Pulling from his own experience, Vice President Biden acknowledged the intrinsic value of nurses in the treatment of patients with cancer, and Schneider thanked him for his leadership on the moonshot initiative and understanding the important role that nurses play in clinical trials. “From recruitment to education about a trial, to symptom management and ensuring data integrity, nurses are integral,” Schneider said.
In Biden’s Moonshot Report, which he delivered to the President and American people on October 17 from the oval office, the vice president announced a number of private and public commitments to further the project.
For example, the National Cancer Institute, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft announced a collaboration that will build a model for maintaining cancer genomic data in the cloud, which will be available to researchers through the NCI’s Genomic Data Commons and Cancer Genomic cloud programs. The Department of Defense also launched a new study to help understand the biologic mechanisms of cancer.
On the private front, car share programs like Lyft and Uber expanded their support of affordable transportation for patients who may otherwise miss their appointments.
Overall, there were 70 commitments made this year for the Cancer Moonshot.
"The short answer is that cancer Moonshot will 100 percent continue. It will continue under the leadership and passion of Vice President Biden,” Aspiras said. "Its particular form within the government: we're just going to have to wait until the other side of Nov. 8.”