Facts About the American Cancer Society

About Your American Cancer Society

The mission of the American Cancer Society is to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer. As we all know, when cancer strikes, it hits from all sides. That’s why we’re committed to attacking cancer from every angle. With more than 100 years of experience and leadership, we are a global force, fighting all cancers on all fronts, across the US and around the globe.

With the help of millions of supporters, we launch breakthrough research, create empowering resources for people to outsmart cancer, enable local communities to support those affected, and convene powerful activists to create awareness and impact.

How the American Cancer Society is organized

The American Cancer Society, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation governed by a single Board of Directors that is responsible for setting policy, establishing long-term goals, monitoring general operations, and approving the organizational outcomes and allocation of resources. The Board is composed entirely of volunteers from the medical and lay communities.

Our structure includes a global headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Regional and local offices throughout the country supporting six geographic Regions with 250 Regional offices. The global headquarters is responsible for overall strategic planning; corporate support services such as human resources, financial management, IT, etc.; development and implementation of global and nationwide endeavors such as our groundbreaking research program, our global program, and 24/7 live helpline; and providing technical support and materials to Regional and local offices.

With a presence in more than 5,000 communities, the American Cancer Society is structured to fight cancer on all fronts. Our Regional and local offices mobilize communities in the cancer fight, delivering potentially lifesaving programs and services and raising crucial funds to support our mission.

How donations help fight cancer

The American Cancer Society is committed to our obligation to spend donor dollars wisely. Here’s a year-end glimpse at how your donations helped save lives – by the numbers. The most recent data is from the 2021 fiscal year.

Fulfilling our mission

Overall, in 2018, 78% of American Cancer Society resources were invested in cancer research, patient support, prevention information and education, and detection and treatment. The other 22% of resources were used to fund our management and general expenses, and fundraising expenses.

Resources allocated to program services (totaling 78% of American Cancer Society resources) include:

  • $147 million invested in cancer research (support to fund and conduct research into better ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer, how to improve the quality of life for people living with cancer, and to advocate for laws and policies that help further cancer research)
  • $269 million invested in patient support (programs to assist cancer patients and their families, easing the burden of cancer)
  • $104 million invested in prevention information and education (programs that provide the public and health professionals with information and education to prevent cancer occurrence or to reduce the risk of developing cancer)
  • $63 million invested in detection and treatment (programs that are directed at finding cancer before it is clinically apparent and that provide information and education about cancer treatments for a cure, recurrence, symptom management, and pain control)

Resources allocated to supporting services (totaling 22% of Society resources) include:

  • $36 million used to fund management and general expenses (executive, financial, and administrative services needed to direct the efforts of the American Cancer Society)
  • $134 million spent on fundraising expenses (securing charitable financial support for the Society’s programs and services)


As a global grassroots force, the Society relies on the strength of millions of dedicated volunteers. From leadership volunteers who set strategy and policy to community volunteers who organize special events and patient support programs, our volunteers, supported by professional staff, drive every part of our mission. The Society’s diverse volunteer opportunities empower people from every community to play a role in saving lives, while fulfilling their own.

How the American Cancer Society is Saving Lives

The ABCD of Attacking From Every Angle

We are ACTIVISTS – convening relentless partners for awareness and impact.

We deliver BREAKTHROUGHS – investing in innovative research to develop game-changing approaches.

We build COMMUNITIES – united to fight cancer with compassion and access to treatment.

We provide DIRECTION – as a passionate ally, empowering people with information and answers.

Attacking Cancer on All Fronts

We identify the most promising avenues for research to address what is not known today and act on what is proven to work and ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to benefit. These are our mission platforms:


We have invested more than $5 billion in research since 1946.

Cancer Prevention

We fund and conduct research to discover how people can take steps to reduce their cancer risk, and provide information on the causes of cancer – from environment to lifestyle choices to genetics, and more. We work to encourage healthy lifestyle choices – like avoiding tobacco, eating healthy, and being physically active – that could help to eliminate approximately 50% of deaths from cancer.

Cancer Screening and Early Detection

We publish guidelines for health care professionals and lay people alike, to help individuals know what cancer screenings are right for them.

Access to Care

We believe no one should die of cancer because they cannot get the quality care they need. We are working to increase screening and reduce cancer risk for underserved communities and boost our investment in our transportation and lodging programs to help patients receive treatment and support.

Patient and Caregiver Services

We provide patients and caregivers with resources that can help improve – and even save – lives. From free rides to chemo, places to stay when treatment is far from home, and our live 24/7 helpline, we’re here for everyone with cancer questions and concerns, when and where they need us.


We are transforming the care and long-term health of the 15.5 million cancer survivors in the US through innovative ways to mitigate the harmful long-term effects from cancer and cancer treatment.

We’re making progress

By taking what we’ve learned through research and translating it into action, we’ve contributed to a 29% decrease in the overall US cancer death rate since 1991. That means that we helped avoid nearly 2.9 million cancer deaths during that time.

Find out about Board of Directors and how we use our donor dollars to move our mission forward. Download our Annual Report and other financial statements and forms.

More of the American Cancer Society’s financial information

2018 Annual Report

Available online at:


You can also call us to have a copy of the report sent to you free of charge.

“Making a Difference”

The mission of the American Cancer Society is to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer. Thanks to those who generously invest in our mission, we are attacking cancer from every angle.

Learn about the impact we make on cancer, and on the lives of those impacted by the disease. We are dedicated to using every single donor dollar wisely to fund and provide the critical programs and services that people count on every day.

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