-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
WEDNESDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- The American Cancer
Society, which is celebrating on Wednesday a century of fighting a
disease once viewed as a death sentence, is making a pledge to put
itself out of business.
Since 1913, the cancer society has played a role in nearly every
major cancer research breakthrough. This year alone, the group
reported a 20 percent drop in cancer death rates since the 1990s,
which amounts to more than one million cancer deaths avoided in
that time period.
And two out of three people diagnosed with cancer today survive
the disease for at least five years, cancer society officials
"We began our fight against cancer at a time when the word 'cancer' was rarely mentioned in public," John Seffrin, CEO of the cancer society, said in a society news release. "In our 100 years of existence, we have contributed to many groundbreaking discoveries that have brought us closer to understanding, preventing and treating the disease, and this century, we are looking to put ourselves out of business by making it cancer's last century."
Established by 15 New York City doctors and business leaders,
the group was first known as the American Society for the Control
Dr. Vincent DeVita Jr., national volunteer president of the
cancer society, recalled that in 1970 it was projected that cancer
incidence and mortality would continue to rise beyond the year
2000. "Today, not only have mortality rates declined since the
early 1990s, but we're averting more than 400 cancer deaths every
day," he said in the news release. "Due in part to the work of the
American Cancer Society, what seemed nearly impossible is now
The group is the largest voluntary health organization in the
United States. Over the years, the cancer society has also helped
cut smoking rates by 50 percent after helping establish the link
between cancer and tobacco use.
Aside from supporting cancer research, the cancer society
provides free lodging and transportation for cancer patients who
need to travel for treatment, as well as their families. The group
also has a free 1-800-227-2345 help line, which helps people with
cancer access the resources they need, from support groups to wig
"It's exciting to see the progress we have made against cancer, but we can't relax our efforts in the fight against this disease," Gary Reedy, volunteer chair of the cancer society board of directors, said in the news release. "Now more than ever, we need everyone's help to make this cancer's last century. There cannot be too many hands on deck."
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