Cancer Moonshot Summit — What Might Cure Cancer

More than 350 oncologists, researchers, medical professionals, cancer patients, patient advocates and others in cancer research and patient care were in Washington, D.C., for the invitation-only National Cancer Moonshot Summit hosted by Vice President Joe Biden. As the regional leader in cancer care services, Aurora Cancer Care was invited to be a part of the discussions about finding a cure.

The summit focused on the goal, set out by President Barack Obama in his January 2016 State of the Union Address, to double the pace of advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment to find a cure.

As a guest at the summit, I can tell you we’re making great strides in the battle. Two specific strategies discussed at the event are paramount in our efforts to beat cancer – molecular genetic testing and clinical trials.

The Role of Genetics in the Fight

Molecular genetic testing is a promising path for advancing cancer care and finding a cure. It focuses on two different aspects of cancer care. Both were popular topics of discussion in Washington.

  • The first area focuses on an analysis of the genetic history of patients and their families for any predisposition to developing cancer. By understanding the role of family history, we’re able to better implement preventative strategies to catch cancer early, which is the best way to beat it.The value of knowing your family history of cancer and screenings cannot be overstated. You can’t change your genetic past, but, by being open with your doctor, you can impact what it might mean to your risk of cancer.
  • Secondly, molecular genetic markers on cancer cells are becoming increasingly critical in the fight against cancer. By better understanding the makeup of actual cancers, oncologists are beginning to map what drugs may be more effective toward patient care depending on the genetic makeup of a tumor. It’s a costly approach, but it’s proving to be very effective and one we need to continue to invest in.

Bringing Breakthrough Trials Closer to Home

Clinical trials were another big discussion at the Moonshot Summit. Clinical trials are the lifeblood of finding the cure.

Unfortunately, a challenge for many cancer patients over the years is that, unless they live near a major research center, they likely can’t participate in clinical trial treatments, because they’re just not available closer to home. That’s all changing now.

Aurora Health Care is one of 34 health care systems across the country participating in the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), which enables cancer patients to participate in clinical trials in their own communities. We’re now able to help patients in rural Wisconsin participate in the exact same trials as patients in Milwaukee or Green Bay. This helps us gather more powerful data on what’s working well and what needs to improve, which helps to fuel our efforts in driving for a cure.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, as Moonshot attendees will attest.


We need to improve collaboration among cancer researchers and encourage data sharing. We need to continue to invest in genetic testing technologies that are allowing us to really understand cancer better than ever before. And we need to create greater access to clinical trials for those who need them most.

Together, we will beat cancer. I’ve never been so confident after attending the Summit and seeing so many resources united together in the battle. It’s a personal battle, one I don’t take lightly as the head of the largest cancer fighting organization in Wisconsin. To each of my partners in the battle, keep fighting, and know that the work you’re doing today will eventually find cures for this devastating disease.

Meet the Author

Aurora Cancer Care helps fight cancer on all fronts at facilities across the Aurora Health Care service area.

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The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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