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American Cancer Society - On a Mission to Free the World from Cancer

Ellen Scharaga

· HealthCare

For more than a century, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has leveraged the help of supporters across the United States and around the globe to advance cancer research and provide empowering resources for those affected by the disease. Today, the organization maintains a presence in more than 5,000 communities and invests millions of dollars in programs focused on cancer research, prevention, treatment, and patient support.

Approximately 1.9 million new cancer cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. In 2021, it's estimated that over 608,000 people will lose their lives to this disease. Among the most common cancer types are those affecting the breast, prostate, lungs, and colon. Melanoma of the skin and urinary and bladder cancers are also common.

In addition to the human impact of cancer, the financial costs of cancer are also significant. According to recent statistics from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the annual health care costs for cancer in the US exceed $80 billion.

A major component of the ACS’ work is focused on funding and conducting research into cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. While research is a top priority, the ACS also directs a large percentage of its resources toward patient support and education services. In 2018, the organization invested $179 million in cancer research, $269 million in patient support, and $104 million in prevention information and education programs.

For individuals and families affected by cancer, the ACS provides a variety of resources, including cancer information specialists who are available 24/7 to answer questions about specific cancers and treatment options and how to cope with a cancer diagnosis. ACS resources also include online and in-person support groups, patient education publications, and caregiver programs. In addition, the society provides cancer screening guidelines and a host of other resources to help people stay healthy and cancer-free.

As a nonprofit organization, the ACS relies on donations and volunteer support to continue its work. Those who would like to get involved can do so in a variety of ways. A simple way to lend your support is by making a one-time or recurring donation via the ACS website or by phone or mail. The ACS also oversees a planned giving program for individuals interested in making the organization a beneficiary of their estate plan.

Prospective volunteers can find plenty of opportunities to assist the society both virtually and in person. Each year, the ACS hosts several community events, including Relay for Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, which rely on volunteers to help with registration, logistics, and participant support. Volunteers can also organize their own DIY fundraisers through the ACS Raise Your Way program.

Other ACS programs and initiatives requiring volunteer support include the Hope Lodge Network, which provides home-like accommodations for cancer patients, and Road to Recovery, which provides individuals unable to drive themselves with transportation to treatment. Finally, those with a passion for politics can get involved with the ACS Cancer Action Network. This nonprofit, non-partisan advocacy group promotes policies and laws to make cancer a top national priority.

More information about the American Cancer Society and the many ways you can advance its work is available at

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