100 Years of Cancer Fighting Paying Off
DES MOINES, Iowa - One hundred years ago in New York City, the American Society for Control of Cancer was formed. It eventually became the American Cancer Society, and today Gov. Terry Branstad has proclaimed "American Cancer Society Day" in honor of the organization's efforts to find a cure for the disease.
Chuck Reed, spokesman for the Iowa chapter of the American Cancer Society, said that in 1913, getting a cancer diagnosis was a death sentence.
"In 1913, if you got cancer, you basically felt bad and died. That was pretty much about it," he said. "There were virtually zero survival rates in dealing with cancer. Today, the overall survival rate is 68 percent."
That figure is for all cancers - and for some, the survival rate is even better. Even so, Reed said, cancer remains the No. 1 killer of Iowans, surpassing heart disease. The society continues to plow money into research, he said, and the goal is to one day have no more need for the Cancer Society.
"I would love to go out of business, I really would," Reed said. "That would be a terrific legacy for any generation to say that we were able to control and eradicate a disease that's killed so many people."
In 1946, Reed said, the society prioritized cancer research and is now the largest nongovernmental and nonprofit funder of cancer research - which means the organization has had a role in nearly every cancer-related research breakthrough in recent years.