Epidemiology (from Greek “epi” = upon and “demos”= the people) is the study of factors that influence health and disease occurrence in populations, and the scientific foundation of public health and preventive medicine.
The Epidemiology Research Program seeks to reduce the cancer burden by conducting large, nationwide prospective studies that advance our understanding of cancer etiology, survival and long-term survivorship and inform cancer prevention and control programs, policies and guidelines.
In 1946, under the direction of Dr. E. Cuyler Hammond, a small research group was created at the American Cancer Society. Dr. Hammond pioneered working with the extensive network of Society volunteers nationwide to enroll and follow large cohorts to provide insights into the causes of cancer. The first cohort, the Hammond-Horn study, conducted from 1952 through 1955, provided the first U.S. prospective evidence to confirm the association between cigarette smoking and death from lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and other conditions in men. The success of this early study established the foundation on which the Society invested in a series of large prospective studies – the Cancer Prevention Studies - and in the creation and growth of the Epidemiology Research Program. Indeed, for over 60 years, research based on information collected from nearly 2.7 million U.S. men and women enrolled in the Cancer Prevention Studies has provided unique, life-saving contributions both within the American Cancer Society and in the global scientific community.
Our team of expert researchers, headed by Susan Gapstur, PhD, MPH, Vice President of Epidemiology, oversees all aspects of the American Cancer Society’s long-term follow-up cancer prevention studies including conducting and sharing findings – in top peer-reviewed medical journals and at national and international meetings – from these large-scale studies. The Society’s Cancer Prevention Studies have played a major role in cancer prevention at the American Cancer Society, as well as in other national and international efforts. More than 500 scientific articles by American Cancer Society epidemiologists have been published from these studies and findings have contributed significantly to tobacco-related research, and to the understanding of obesity, diet, physical activity, hormone use, air pollution, and various other exposures in relation to cancer and other diseases.