More than 1.2 million Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year, including almost 10,000 in Nevada. The American Cancer Society (ACS) is well known for its efforts in researching cures for this devastating disease. ACS researchers have been involved in many of the major cancer research breakthroughs, including: mammography, the Pap smear, the PSA test for prostate cancer, 5-FU chemotherapy for colon cancer and combination chemotherapy to treat childhood leukemia. ACS studies provided support to prove the link between cancer and tobacco smoking. Thanks in part to these scientific breakthroughs, nearly 9 million Americans today are cancer survivors and the five-year combined survival rate for all cancers is 62 percent.
ACS also sponsors prevention programs that focus on controlling tobacco use, educating the public about skin cancer prevention, demonstrating how diet and exercise affect health, and promoting health education in schools. It also works with hospitals, health organizations and the media to promote life-saving detection tests to find cancer in its earliest, treatable stages. Its current national ad campaign features the voice of Tim Allen as Polyp Man, encouraging people to get tested for the polyps that can be precursors of colon cancer. A program called Tell-A-Friend encourages women to contact friends, family and co-workers to remind them of the importance of regular mammograms.
Paulette Anderson, regional communications manager for ACS in Nevada, points out that the organization also plays a vital role in providing services for victims of cancer and their families. Support groups and programs provide encouragement, education and social activities for patients, family members and friends who are coping with cancer-related issues. Groups vary from general support to assistance in dealing with specific cancers.
A brief list of the programs available in Nevada include:
I Can Cope: Quality-of-life classes including information about caregiving, medication, treatment options and availability of resources.
Look Good, Feel Better: Women with cancer learn makeup and skincare techniques to offset the damaging effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
Man to Man: Prostate cancer survivors visit one-to-one with prostate cancer patients early in their diagnosis, providing support and information.
Reach to Recovery: Breast cancer survivors provide one-to-one support for women facing breast cancer and for those who have had breast cancer surgery.
Road to Recovery: Volunteer drivers provide transportation to doctor appointments and cancer treatments.
Gift Items: Personal items such as dressings, wigs, ostomy supplies and liquid food supplements are available to cancer patients.
Retreats and camps: Weekend retreats, day camps and residential camps staffed with medical personnel are designed to give cancer survivors or family members a change of focus and an uplifting break from the daily stresses that are a part of living with cancer.
ACS fundraising activities are held throughout the state and throughout the year. Relay for Life is an event in which teams walk, jog or run to raise funds for ACS programs. Participants can also light candles at the relay to honor someone battling cancer or to remember someone who has lost the battle. Relay for Life events in Nevada are held from March through August. Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, to be held in Southern Nevada on October 6, provides funding for breast cancer research and programs. Last year’s event raised $145,000, according to Anderson.
For more information or to inquire about fundraisers, contact either Nevada branch of the American Cancer Society, or call its 24-hour-a-day national information center at 800-ACS-2345. Its Web site, cancer.org, provides valuable information about research, treatment options and programs.
Greater Las Vegas Region
1325 E. Harmon, Las Vegas 89119
Northern Nevada Region
6490 S. McCarran Blvd., Suite 40, Reno 89509