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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.
The American Cancer Society, Inc. consists of a National Home Office with 13 chartered Divisions throughout the United States and a presence in most communities.
More than two million volunteers carry out the Society's mission of eliminating cancer and improving quality of life for those individuals facing the disease. These dedicated volunteers donate their time and talents to further cancer research; educate the public about early detection and prevention; advocate for responsible cancer legislation in the local, state, and federal governments; and serve cancer patients and their families as they manage their cancer experience.
How the American Cancer Society Fights Cancer
The aim of the Society’s research program is to determine the causes of cancer and to support efforts to prevent and cure the disease. The American Cancer Society is the largest source of private, nonprofit cancer research funds in the United States, second only to the federal government in total dollars spent.
Beginning in 1946 with $1 million, the Society’s research program has invested about $3 billion in cancer research. The Society has funded 44 Nobel Prize winners, most of them early in their careers.
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.
Knowing the facts about cancer can save lives. What you eat and drink, how you live, where you work . . . all these factors can affect your risk for cancer.
Primary cancer prevention means taking the necessary precautions to prevent the occurrence of cancer. Prevention programs are designed to help adults and children make healthy lifestyle choices that continue throughout life.
The Society offers programs to help educate the public about cancer risks, early detection methods, and prevention. Educational efforts include:
- Tobacco control
- Relationship between diet and physical activity and cancer
- Sun Safety
- Comprehensive school health education
In addition to cancer prevention, the Society focuses on a variety of early detection programs and encourages regular medical checkups and recommended cancer screenings.
Finding cancer in the earliest stage possible gives the patient the greatest chance of survival. For this reason, the Society seeks to provide the public and health care professionals with the latest cancer resources to help them make informed decisions. Through national conferences and workshops, a Web site (www.cancer.org), the National Cancer Information Center (1-800-ACS-2345), workshops, multimedia, and print publications, the Society reaches out in multiple ways with lifesaving information.
Because cancer takes a toll on the person diagnosed--as well as family and friends--the Society offers support and service programs to try to lessen the impact. These programs cover a wide range of needs--from connecting patients with other survivors to providing a place to stay when treatment facilities are far from home.
Cancer is a political issue. Many of the most important cancer decisions are made not just in the doctor’s office, but in your state legislature, in Congress, and the White House. Government officials make decisions everyday about health issues that affect our lives. The Society’s advocacy efforts work in concert with its research, education, and service initiatives to strengthen our nation’s laws, regulations, and programs in a way that will:
- Increase federal funding for cancer research
- Help more people benefit from advances in prevention, early detection, and treatment
- Make it easier for patients to navigate the health care system
- Improve the quality of life of cancer patients, survivors, and their families
Society advocacy initiatives rely on the combined efforts of a community-based, grassroots network of cancer survivors and caregivers, Society volunteers and staff, health care professionals, public health organizations, and other collaborative partners.
In addition, the Society has established a sister issue advocacy organization, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network(SM) (ACS CAN) (www.acscan.org). ACS CAN is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major public health problem through voter education and issue campaigns aimed at influencing candidates and lawmakers to support laws and policies that will help people fight cancer.