The History of the American Cancer Society

The History of the American Cancer Society


Your American Cancer Society has been
saving lives for 100 years and we’ve seen quite a few
changes in our time. What was the world like when we started?
A century ago, the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. You
could get a car in any color you wanted so long as it was black. There were no
PC’s, smartphones, no internet, no vaccine for
polio and not much hope for someone diagnosed with
cancer. Back then only one in ten lives could be saved
from the disease. Cancer was a word spoken of only in whispers. But in 1913, we came together to change all that. We built an army of
volunteers who spread the word in communities
across the country. By the 1930s, our efforts were showing real results.
More lives were being saved. But we knew more could be done. So, we enlisted the aid of prominent
scientists and helped pioneer the field of cancer research. Celebrities added
their voices to the cause marshalling awareness and resources for
further research. Our work led to major medical advances
like chemotherapy and we promoted the Pap test and
mammography as important screening tools helping save millions of lives in the
process. When lung cancer deaths skyrocketed in the nineteen fifties. We were there demonstrating irrefutably the link between smoking and cancer. We supported scores a promising young
researchers with exciting new ideas. The result
groundbreaking advances that change medicine forever. In fact, 46 of our funded researchers have gone on
to win Nobel prizes for their work. In 1971, we advocated for the passage the National Cancer Act. It brought
federal focus and funding to the fight against cancer.
With greater resources and breakthrough treatments saving more lives, we opened a new front in the battle by
providing first of their kind support programs and services for patients and survivors. And with the
help of our volunteers we created the world’s largest movement
to end cancer with unique fundraising programs and
events to empower and engage communities worldwide to
finish the fight. Today, two out of three people diagnosed
with cancer are surviving and we celebrate 400 more
birthdays every day that would have otherwise been
lost. Yes, the world has changed quite a bit since the started. And no one has done more in the fight
against cancer than we have. But, there’s still more to do
and we need your help. So make your voice heard. Help finish the
fight at cancer.org/fight.

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