President Joe Biden unveiled Monday more funding for researching blood tests to diagnose the disease early as he aims to halve fatalities to 300,000 a year by 2042. The amount being spent was not revealed.
But figures compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) showed the U.S. trails behind many less developed nations with 85.7 cancer deaths per 100,000 people a year — although this figure is trending downwards.
America’s cancer rates are often blamed on its expensive healthcare system, with some putting off having potential warning signs checked for fear of the cost.
But many less developed nations tend to have much younger populations and lower life expectancies, reducing the risk of the illness because it is more likely in older age. They also do not have as strong a health infrastructure, suggesting many deaths may go undiagnosed and unreported.
U.S. cancer mortality rates are, however, below those in many other western nations including the UK — with its publicly funded health system — France and Italy. This may be linked to having fewer smokers, with a quarter of Europeans smoking compared to 14 percent of Americans, and getting faster access to new treatments.
This graph shows 15 of the 185 nations that were ranked using cancer mortality rates calculated by the World Health Organization. It shows several countries including Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Guatemala have lower rates than the U.S., but that others are trending higher
Joe Biden said today that ending cancer ‘as we know it’ was one of the reasons he ran for president as he supercharged his ‘Cancer Moonshot’ initiative with a shot of glamour from the Kennedy family.
Figures from the WHO were used to rank 185 nations for cancer mortality over the year 2020, the latest available, by the London-based World Cancer Research Fund.
They were given as an age-adjusted rate to allow for comparison between countries with different population sizes controlling for differences in average age between nations.
Saudi Arabia had the lowest rate of cancer deaths globally (50.9 per 100,000), while that in Mexico (62.6), Ethiopia (73.6) and Iraq (84.3) was also below the United States’ figure.
But on the other hand European countries including the UK with its publicly funded health system (99.6), Italy (90.6) and France (107.5) all had higher rates.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in America behind about 600,000 deaths annually, with only heart disease ahead at 696,000 fatalities.
For men and women lung cancer is the most fatal, behind an estimated 120,000 fatalities every year, the American Cancer Society says. This is followed by breast cancer — 61,000 deaths — and prostate cancer — 34,500.
Battling the disease has been a constant mission for Biden after he lost his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015, leading him to set up the first cancer moonshot programme.
Today the President re-stated his support for the mission, vowing to cure cancer ‘once and for all’ and supercharge his initiative.
Caroline Kennedy praised Biden repeatedly in her opening remarks and compared him to her father, the President John F Kennedy
President Joe Biden greets Ambassador Caroline Kennedy before he speaks on the cancer moonshot initiative at the John F. Kennedy Library
He said: ‘Now in our time, on the 60th anniversary of his clarion call, we face another inflection point, and together, we can choose to move forward with unity, hope and optimism.
‘I believe we can usher in the same unwillingness to postpone — the same national purpose — that will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills to end cancer as we know it. And even cure cancers once and for all.’
Biden was in Boston to deliberately echo Kennedy’s famous 1962 speech, which was praised for its positive tone and its effectiveness at rallying Americans’ to the president’s cause.
He had Kennedy’s daughter Caroline, who serves as his ambassador to Australia, at his side. He called her and her son Jack back to the stage after his remarks so they could all work the rope line together.
Responding to the announcement today, the American Cancer Society’s president Lisa Lacasse said Biden’s ‘ongoing commitment to changing the trajectory of cancer is critical, as we need a national commitment to enact policies that will have a wide reaching impact.
‘We’ve made tremendous strides in how we prevent, detect, treat and survive cancer, but there is still much work to be done to improve the lives of those touched by this disease.’
John F. Kennedy’s ‘Moonshot’ speech launched his goal of putting a man on the moon
In his ‘Moonshot’ speech on Sept. 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy characterized space as a new frontier.
He gave his remarks as the Soviet Union was beating America in the space race, with cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin having circled the earth and landed safely.
Kennedy used the speech to outline his goal of landing a man on the moon before 1970. But he also used his remarks to invoke the pioneer spirit of America, along with a sense of urgency and destiny.
He travelled to Houston, Texas, the site of NASA’s Mission Control, to be briefed on the possibility of his goal. He then spoke to about 40,000 people, at Rice University’s Rice Stadium.
President John F. Kennedy, giving his Moonshot speech at Rice University
The middle portion of the speech is best remembered and quoted:
We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the Moon. We choose to go to the Moon… We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.
Kennedy was praised for using the speech to highlight what is best in America and to give a vibrant, optimistic view of the future.
John Kennedy’s goal of having a man walk on the moon was realized – posthumously – in July 1969, with the successful Apollo 11 mission; above astronaut Edwin Aldrin walks on the moon’s surface
Kennedy’s goal of having a man walk on the moon was realized – posthumously – in July 1969, with the Apollo program’s successful Apollo 11 mission.