American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy, and service. It is one of the oldest and largest voluntary health agencies in the United States, with over two million Americans united to conquer cancer through balanced programs of research, education, patient service, advocacy, and rehabilitation.
The American Cancer Society, Inc. consists of a National Society, with chartered Divisions throughout the country and over 3,400 local Units.
- The National Society - The National Board of Directors provides basic representation from the divisions and additional representation on the basis of population. The National Society is responsible for overall planning and coordination of public and professional education, providing technical help and materials to divisions and units, and administering programs of research, medical grants, and clinical fellowships.
- The Divisions - These are governed by volunteer members of Division Boards of Directors, both medical and lay, throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
- The Units - More than 3400 local Units are organized to cover the counties and communities in the United States. There are thousands of community leaders who direct the Society’s programs at this lever.
- Volunteers - The Society’s mission of cancer control is carried out by over 2 million volunteers nationwide who donate their time and services.
How the American Cancer Society Fights Cancer
Research - To date, the Society has invested more than $2.4 billion in cancer research and has provided grant support to 32 Nobel Prize winners early in their careers. The Society’s overall annual expenditure in research has grown steadily from $1 million in 1946 to more than $130 million in fiscal year 2001. The research program focuses primarily on peer-reviewed projects initiated by beginning investigators working in leading medical and scientific institutions across the country. The research program consists of three components: extramural grants, intramural epidemiology and surveillance research, and the intramural behavioral research center.
Prevention - The Society’s programs focus primarily on:
- Tobacco Control
- Relationship between diet and physical activity and cancer
- Promoting comprehensive school health education
- Reducing the risk of skin cancer
Detection and Treatment Information and Education - The Society also seeks to provide the public and health care professionals with information, through the dissemination of its early detection guidelines and its detection education and advocacy programs, in order to ensure that all cancers are found at the earliest possible stage, when there is the greatest chance for successful treatment. This is accomplished through national conferences and workshops, audiovisual and print publications, the American Cancer Society web site and the National Cancer Information Center, as well as clinical awards, professorships, and scholarships.
Patient Services - To ease the impact of cancer on patients and their families, the American Cancer Society provides service and rehabilitation programs, as well as patient and family education and support programs.
Advocacy and Public Policy - Cancer is a political, as well as medical, social, psychological, and economic issue. Policy makers at all levels of government make decisions every day which impact the lives of more than 8 million cancer survivors, their families, and all potential cancer patients. The Society’s advocacy initiative strives to influence public policies at all levels, with special emphasis on laws or regulations relating to:
- The use, sale, distribution, marketing, and advertising of tobacco products, particularly to youth.
- Improved access for all Americans, particularly poor and underserved Americans, to a range of health care services for the prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer and care of cancer patients.
- Increased federal funding and incentives for private sponsorship of cancer research to prevent and cure cancer.
- Advocacy for the rights of cancer survivors.
American Cancer Society advocacy efforts are successful because they rely on the combined voices of a community-based grassroots advocacy network of Society volunteers and other partners who have successfully influenced or supported laws and regulations enforcing the United States Food and Drug Administration’s role in regulating tobacco products as “drug delivery devices”, enacting health insurance market reforms to ensure portability and continuity of health insurance coverage for individuals with a history of cancer or other serious illness, improving third-party coverage for cancer prevention and treatment clinical trials, including payment for patient care costs, and increasing federal funding for our National Cancer Program.