The recently released Cancer Moonshot Task Force report to President Barack Obama outlines strategies for increasing prevention of tobacco- and human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers. Citing the high number of tobacco-linked cancer deaths and low utility of the HPV vaccine among adolescents, the Task Force will seek to unite federal agencies and work with local and state governments to increase access to preventative care and services.
The Task Force plans to reduce tobacco-related cancer deaths by increasing access to smoking cessation programs. In 2009, the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program reported a 26% decrease in smoking prevalence among Medicaid recipients in just 2.5 years. Taking this program as a model, the Task Force will combat smoking in the Medicaid population by increasing health promotion, counseling, and access to medications and by lowering financial barriers to care. One of the mechanisms by which the Task Force hopes to achieve meaningful declines in smoking is through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) 6|18 Initiative, which endeavors to reduce the prevalence of 6 high-burden health conditions, including tobacco use, by utilizing 18 evidence-based interventions.
The Task Force also plans to increase uptake of the HPV vaccine through the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable, a continuing partnership between the CDC and the American Cancer Society that began in 2014. The HPV vaccine is primarily targeted to 11 and 12-year-olds. According to the Task Force report, only 42% of girls and less than 30% of boys have receive the vaccine. The Task Force will increase awareness of HPV-related cancers and the benefits of the vaccine among healthcare providers and the public. The Task Force will conduct immunization surveillance and send reminders about the vaccine through the Immunization Information System, a confidential immunizations database run by the CDC.
Current evidence shows decreased oral infection rates by HPV-16, the strain associated with oropharyngeal cancer, in those who receive the HPV vaccine. Studies assessing a cancer preventative effect are not yet available.
The Cancer Moonshot is a $1 billion effort to double the rate of progress of cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The Moonshot was announced in President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address and is led by Vice President Joe Biden. Other strategies outlined in the report center around driving scientific discovery, data sharing, public-private partnerships, multidisciplinary research, and patient-centered care.