First Lady Jill Biden spoke to Rev. F. Todd Gray during her February visit to the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University.
DANIEL SANGJIB MIN / TIMES-DISPATCH
From Mindy Conklin
Last month, Dr. Jill Biden on her first official trip outside of Washington, D, C as first lady to the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University, highlighting the importance of fighting back the disease – especially in underserved communities where incidence and die Mortality rates tend to be above the national average.
As the First Lady noted, “The President and I are committed to ending cancer as we know it.”
As someone who lost his husband to cancer at the age of 43, this deadly disease that will kill more than 600,000 Americans in 2021 imprints itself on my mind every day.
That’s why I’m so excited about educating as many people as possible about the importance of early screenings. Tests like colonoscopies, mammograms, and Pap smears save lives by detecting cancer early if the 5-year survival rate exceeds 90%.
Caught too late after cancer has had a chance to metastasize throughout the body and 5 year survival drops to 21% and for stage 4 colon cancer to around 14%.
And yet, even if everyone was keen to get screenings early – as they should – we are still faced with the limits of technology.
For example, of the more than 100 cancers that exist, only five have recommended screening tests. This means that we cannot recognize the vast majority of cancers until someone arrives at the doctor with signs or symptoms of an illness.