American Cancer Society

American Cancer Society
American Cancer Society Logo.svg
FoundedMay 22, 1913; 105 years ago (1913-05-22)
Focus"To save lives by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures, and fighting back."[1]
Location
OriginsNew York City, New York, U.S.
Area served
United States
MethodCancer research, public policy, education and service.[2]
Key people
Gary M. Reedy, CEO[3]
Websitewww.cancer.org

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a nationwide voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer. Established in 1913, the society is organized into eleven geographical divisions of both medical and lay volunteers operating in more than 900 offices throughout the United States.[2][4] Its home office is located in the American Cancer Society Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The ACS publishes the journals Cancer, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and Cancer Cytopathology.[5]

History

The society was founded on May 22, 1913, by 10 physicians and five businessmen in New York City under the name American Society for the Control of Cancer (ASCC).[6][7] The current name was adopted in 1944.[4][8] According to Charity Navigator the ACS is one of the oldest and largest volunteer health organizations.[4]

At the time of founding, it was not considered appropriate to mention the word cancer in public. Information concerning this illness was cloaked in a climate of fear and denial. Over 75,000 people died each year of cancer in just the United States. The top item on the founders' agenda was to raise awareness of cancer, before any other progress could be made in funding research. Therefore, a frenetic writing campaign was undertaken to educate doctors, nurses, patients and family members about cancer. Articles were written for popular magazines and professional journals. The ASCC undertook to publish their own journal, Campaign Notes, which was a monthly bulletin with information about cancer. They began recruiting doctors from all over the United States to help educate the public about cancer.

In 1936, Marjorie Illig, an ASCC field representative, suggested the creation of a network consisting of new volunteers for the purpose of waging "war on cancer". From 1935 to 1938 the number of people involved in cancer control in the US grew from 15,000 to 150,000. According to Working to Give, The Women's Field Army, a group of volunteers working for the ASCC was primarily responsible for this increase.[9]

The sword symbol, adopted by the American Cancer Society in 1928, was designed by George E. Durant of Brooklyn, New York. According to Durant, the two serpents forming the handle represent the scientific and medical focus of the society's mission and the blade expresses the "crusading spirit of the cancer control movement".[10]

In 2013 the American Cancer Society embarked on a nationwide reorganization. The organization centralized its operations and consolidated, merging previous regional affiliates into the parent organization. It also required all employees to reapply for their jobs.[11][12]