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MercyOne oncologist sees potential in Biden's 'moonshot' cancer initiative

President Biden is re-energizing an initiative to cut the cancer death rate in half.

DES MOINES, Iowa — President Joe Biden is reinvigorating the "moonshot" cancer initiative first implemented when he was vice president under the Obama administration.

"The goal was to cut the cancer death rate in half in the next 25 years, at least by 50%," Biden said. "And to turn more cancer death sentences into chronic diseases that people can live with to create a more supportive experience for patients and their families."

Dr. Richard Deming, Medical Director, MercyOne Richard Deming Cancer Center, said focusing on cancer research is critical.

"This year alone in the United States, 1.9 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer," Deming said. "And this year alone in the United States, 600,000 Americans will die of cancer."

Deming recognizes the potential in Biden's plan and notes extensive research is needed to find a cure.

"The reason to reignite this moonshot is to put special emphasis and focus on reducing the burden of cancer, and we know what to do, we have gained so much knowledge," Deming said. "If we start measuring and make a focused attempt for the whole country, we can make significant advances."

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While research is important, Deming said 50% of cancers in the U.S. are preventable, so the initiative should be equally focused on accessible treatment.

"So in addition to scientific research, for finding cures for cancers that exist, we need to continue to focus on public health measures to prevent cancers that are preventable, to make sure everyone has access to health care," Deming said.

Marcia Munger was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer after finding a lump under her armpit. 

"The big thing with cancer, you're told you have cancer, but until you know everything, it's the unknown that is more scary than the known," Munger said.

Even with this initiative, she said people have the responsibility of being aware of their own bodies as a way to prevent death from cancer.

"It doesn't matter what laws we put in place, how much research we do, if people don't be proactive about their body and understand it, it's going to not do any good," Munger said.

RELATED: New MercyOne cancer center promises easier access to better care

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