What Is the History Behind the American Cancer Society?

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a non-profit organization that has been working tirelessly for over a century to fight against cancer. The organization was founded in 1913 by a group of 10 doctors and businessmen in New York City who wanted to promote cancer research and education.

The Early Days

In the early days, the ACS was focused primarily on raising funds for cancer research. The organization’s founders believed that research was the key to understanding the disease and finding a cure. They also wanted to educate the public about cancer prevention and treatment.

One of the ACS’s earliest initiatives was the establishment of a research committee in 1914. This committee was responsible for reviewing grant proposals from researchers across the country and awarding funding to those with promising ideas.

The Mid-20th Century

By the mid-20th century, the ACS had evolved into a more comprehensive organization. In addition to funding research, they were now also focused on providing support to cancer patients and survivors.

One of the most significant developments during this time was the creation of Reach To Recovery® in 1952. This program connected women who had undergone breast cancer surgery with trained volunteers who had gone through a similar experience. The volunteers provided emotional support and practical advice, which helped many women cope with their diagnosis and treatment.

The Modern Era

In recent years, the ACS has continued to expand its programs and services. They now offer a wide range of resources for patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. Some of their most notable initiatives include:

  • The Road To Recovery® program, which provides transportation assistance to patients who need help getting to medical appointments.
  • The Hope Lodge® program, which offers free lodging for cancer patients who are receiving treatment away from home.
  • The Look Good Feel Better® program, which helps women with cancer cope with the appearance-related side effects of treatment.

The Fight Against Cancer Continues

Today, the ACS remains one of the most prominent and influential organizations in the fight against cancer. They have made significant strides in cancer research, prevention, and treatment over the past century. However, there is still much work to be done.

According to the ACS’s most recent estimates, there will be over 1.8 million new cancer cases and more than 600,000 cancer deaths in the United States this year alone. The organization is committed to continuing their efforts until a cure for cancer is found.


In conclusion, the American Cancer Society has a rich history that spans over 100 years. From its early days as a research-focused organization to its modern-day efforts to support patients and caregivers, the ACS has played a vital role in advancing our understanding of cancer and improving outcomes for those affected by this disease. With ongoing support from donors, volunteers, and healthcare professionals, we can all help contribute to the ACS’s mission of eliminating cancer once and for all.