Founded in 1913, the American Cancer Society is the nation's largest community-based voluntary health organization and has played a role in virtually every cancer breakthrough in recent history. As a global grassroots force, the Society tackles every cancer in every community to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.
The cancer death rate has declined by 31% from 1991 to 2018, including a 2.2% drop between 2016 and 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported. The steady 26-year decline is driven by long-term drops in death rates for four major cancers-lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate. This all translates to more than 3.2 million deaths avoided since 1991, when rates were at their highest.
As the largest nongovernmental funder of cancer research, having spent more than $4.6 billion on cancer research since 1946, we've played a role in nearly every cancer breakthrough in recent history. We fund beginning researchers with cutting-edge ideas early in their careers - 49 of whom have gone on to win the Nobel Prize, the highest accolade in scientific achievement.
We provide information that empowers people to take steps to help them prevent cancer or find it early, when it's most treatable. We partner with cities, towns, community groups, schools, faith organizations, corporations and others to bring practical cancer-fighting information through our programs that promote physical activity and smoking cessation.
Each year, we help cancer patients everywhere get the help they need when they need it. For example, last year we assisted nearly a million people who called us for help, providing free services like a place to stay while traveling away from home for treatment, rides to treatment, emotional support and much more.