1913 The American Cancer Society is founded. Fifteen physicians and businessmen in New York City, who were determined to raise awareness about cancer, form the American Society for the Control of Cancer, later renamed the American Cancer Society.

1936 Women make noise to save lives. A group of passionate women form the Women’s Field Army—an organization of women who took to the streets to educate people about cancer and raise money to save lives. Their contributions were monumental in building the American Cancer Society and the cancer movement.

1946 The American Cancer Society launches its groundbreaking research program. Philanthropist Mary Lasker and her colleagues revolutionize the Society’s mission and fundraising efforts, helping to raise more than $4 million—$1 million of which was used to establish the program.

1947 The first successful chemotherapy treatment for cancer is discovered. American Cancer Society-funded researcher Sidney Farber, MD, produces remissions in children with leukemia.

1948 The Pap test saves lives. The American Cancer Society pushes for wide adoption of the Pap test that has resulted in a 70% decrease in uterine and cervical cancer.

1954 The fight to stop smoking and reduce lung cancer begins. An American Cancer Society study confirms the link between smoking and lung cancer. Additional smoking prevention work helps lead to a 50% decrease in smoking and a reduction in the death rate from lung cancer. This launches an era of cancer prevention research at the Society.


1970 The first American Cancer Society Hope Lodge® facility opens in Charleston, South Carolina. Volunteer Margot Freudenberg helps open what today has become a home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers nationwide who need a free, temporary place to stay when traveling away from home for treatment.

1971 The National Cancer Act passes, which starts the “War on Cancer.” The American Cancer Society plays a leading role in the passage of this act, which is considered the most dramatic piece of health legislation ever enacted. It led to federal funding for cancer research rising from $4.3 million in 1953 to an estimated $5.1 billion in 2012.

1973 Mammography is shown to be the best tool to find breast cancer early. The American Cancer Society invest in a mammography study that demonstrates it is the best tool for the early detection of breast cancer.

1976 First Great American Smokeout®. The American Cancer Society hosts an event in California to help nearly 1 million smokers quit for the day. The following year, the Society takes the program nationwide, and it continues to challenge people to stop using tobacco and provides them support to quit today.

1997 The American Cancer Society launches the first 24/7/365 cancer information call center. Cancer Information Specialist begin servicing patients and their families 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Today the American Cancer Society provides free information, answers, and support to nearly 1 million people facing cancer who call each year.

2000 The first use of molecularly targeted therapy to treat cancer is successful. Former American Cancer Society grantee Brian Druker, MD, reports stunning success in treating chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) with a molecularly targeted drug (Gleevec), launching a new era of molecularly targeted treatments.

2003 American Cancer Society research confirms the link between obesity and many types of cancer. American Cancer Society researchers confirm that being overweight or obese contributes to many types of cancer.

2011 Two American Cancer Society-funded researchers win the Nobel Prize. This bring the total number of Society-funded Nobel Prize winners to 46.

2012 The United States celebrates a 20% decline in cancer death rates. This translates to 1.2 million lives saved from cancer between 1991 and 2009.

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