Facts About the American Cancer Society

About Your American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy, and service.

How the American Cancer Society is organized

The American Cancer Society, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit 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. 

The Society’s structure includes a global headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as regional and local offices throughout the country supporting 6 geographic regions with regional offices, and more than 300 local offices in those regions. 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-hour call center; and providing technical support and materials to regional and local offices for local delivery.

With a presence in more than 5,000 communities, the American Cancer Society is structured to fight for every life threatened by every cancer in every community. Our regional and local offices are organized to engage communities in the cancer fight, delivering potentially lifesaving programs and services and raising money at the local level. Offices are strategically placed across the country to maximize our efforts, and to be as efficient as possible with the money donated to the Society to fight cancer and save lives. 

How donated money is used

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 (as of August 2016) is from fiscal year 2015. 

Fulfilling our mission

Overall, in 2015, 75% of Society resources went to cancer research, patient support, prevention information and education, and detection and treatment. The remaining 25% of resources were spent on management and general expenses and fundraising expenses.

Resources allocated to program services (totaling 75% of Society resources) include:

$151 million spent on cancer research (support to fund and conduct research into the causes of cancer; how it can be prevented, detected early, and treated successfully; how to improve the quality of life for people living with cancer; and to advocate for laws and policies that help further cancer research)

$348 million spent on patient support (programs to assist cancer patients and their families and ease the burden of cancer for them)

$123 million spent on prevention information/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)

$87 million spent on 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 cure, recurrence, symptom management, and pain control)

Resources allocated to supporting services (totaling 25% of Society resources) include:

$52 million spent on management and general expenses (executive, financial, and administrative services needed to direct the efforts of the Society)

$180 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

Together with our millions of supporters, the American Cancer Society is helping to save more lives from cancer. These outcome statements represent the strategic areas in which we focus our operational plans and resources. These outcomes drive our mission activities and serve as the basis by which we measure and report our lifesaving progress:

Access to care 

Improve access to care for both patients and for those who are seeking access to preventive services.

Breast cancer

Increase our efforts to reduce breast cancer death rates in the communities where it is highest.

Cancer treatment & patient care

Reduce barriers to care for individuals with lower income and lower education levels.

Colorectal cancer

Increase our efforts to reduce colorectal cancer death rates in the communities where it is highest.

Global health

Reverse the global ascent of tobacco use and the cancer deaths it causes; ensure access to cancer prevention information, early detection, and treatment globally; mobilize a network of global volunteers, advocates, and staff; and establish stable funding for our global efforts.

Financial sustainability

Work to ensure the health non-profit sector, and the cancer non-profit sub-sector in particular, receive stable, steadily improving funding, and by 2020, ensure 80% of the Society’s revenue supports our program services.

Healthy eating, active living, & environment

Advocate for legislative and regulatory policy that will promote an environment that values nutrition and physical activity.

HPV-related cancers

Increase our efforts to prevent HPV-related cancers and pre-cancers in the US and around the world.

Lung cancer screening

Expand the ability of health care facilities to provide high-quality lung cancer screening.

Tobacco control

Increase tobacco excise taxes in all jurisdictions, increase the federal tobacco excise tax, and increase the percentage of the population covered by comprehensive smoke-free laws, with the ultimate goal of enacting a comprehensive, non-preemptive federal smoke-free law.

Market health

Be the best known, highly respected cancer non-profit by growing Americans’ understanding of our mission and activities, maintaining a healthy donor base, and creating experiences that positively impact people’s lives.

Organizational health

Attract excellent staff and volunteers, and provide an environment in which they can both develop and thrive.

We’re making progress

By taking what we’ve learned through research and translating it into action, we’ve contributed to a 25% decrease in the overall US cancer death rate since 1991. That means that we helped avoid nearly 2.1 million cancer deaths during that time.

More of the American Cancer Society’s financial information

2016 Stewardship Report 

Available online at:


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

“Where Does Your Money Go?”

The 2016 infographic can be found online at:


Other resources

The Society’s current Combined Financial Statements, IRS Form 990s, and information about our BBB Wise Giving Alliance Seal are also available on www.cancer.org.