The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that more than 1.6 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men (26 percent), followed by lung (14 percent), and colon and rectum (8 percent) cancers. Among women, breast (29 percent), lung (13 percent), and colon and rectum (8 percent) cancers are the most common cancers. While there have been notable improvements in survival rates for most cancer types due to earlier detection and/or advances in treatment, there still will likely be almost 589,500 U.S. cancer deaths in 2015.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease, and accounts for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths.Since 1913, the ACS has been working to save lives by helping people stay well and get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back. One of its biggest programs under the fighting-back umbrella is the Relay for Life. With 4 million people across the globe participating in more than 6,000 Relay for Life events each year, it is the ACS’s most successful fundraiser. In general, an event consists of teams who camp out overnight and take turns walking or running around a track or path at a local high school, park or fairground. Events are up to 24 hours long, and because cancer never sleeps, each team is asked to have at least one participant on the track at all times. Although Relays may vary, common features include:
- A Survivor Lap, which starts the Relay event
- A Caregiver Lap
- An Opening Lap, in which all teams walk together
- A Luminaria Ceremony, usually with a candlelight vigil
- A Closing Ceremony, including a final lap for all participants. Awards are given to teams for various achievements, such as most laps walked and most money raised.
- A “Fight Back” Ceremony, in which participants pledge to take action and spread awareness of cancer research, treatments and prevention.