Canadian Cancer Society

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Canadian Cancer Society
Société canadienne du cancer
Canadian Cancer Society logo.png
AbbreviationCCS / SCC
TypeNon-profit organizations based in Canada
Legal statusActive
PurposeCancer prevention, information, support, advocacy and research
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario, Canada
Region served
Official language
English, French

The Canadian Cancer Society (French: Société canadienne du cancer) is Canada's largest national cancer charity and the largest national charitable funder of cancer research in Canada.


The idea to form the Canadian Cancer Society originally came from the Saskatchewan Medical Association in 1929, when they formed Canada's first cancer committee.

In 1937, the National Study Committee recommended the formation of new organization, which was later called Canadian Cancer Society for the control of cancer.

The Society was officially formed a decade later, in 1938, to educate Canadians about the early warning signs of cancer. At that time, many people did not seek medical help until their cancer had advanced past a treatable stage.

In 1947, the Society began funding cancer research through the creation of the National Cancer Institute of Canada, an agreement between the Canadian Cancer Society and the Federal Department of Health and Welfare. The Society continues to fund cancer research today the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute.

In February 2017, the Canadian Cancer Society announced that it would merge with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in an effort to reduce redundancies and operating costs. The merged operation will continue to operate as the Canadian Cancer Society.[1]


The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people who have cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society is Canada's largest national cancer charity and the country's largest national charitable funder of cancer research.

Relying on donor and volunteer support, the Canadian Cancer Society fulfills its mission by:[2]

  • doing everything possible to prevent cancer
  • funding research to outsmart cancer
  • empowering, informing and supporting Canadians who have cancer
  • advocating for public policies to improve the health of Canadians
  • rallying Canadians to get involved in the fight against cancers.


The Canadian Cancer Society consists of:

  • national offices in Toronto and Ottawa
  • 10 provincial and territorial divisions
  • approximately 140,000 volunteers (including canvassers)
  • approximately 1,200 full-time staff

Public accountability for the organization rests at the national level. The national Board of Directors has 18 volunteer representatives from across Canada. The President and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society is Lynne Hudson.[2]



The logo for the Canadian Cancer Society is the daffodil. The flower had served as a symbol of cancer awareness since the 1950s, when volunteers for the Society organized a fundraising tea in Toronto; the volunteers used daffodils to decorate the tables, as they thought it would create hope that cancer could be beaten.[3]

The use of daffodils for fundraising began in 1956, when volunteers handed out daffodils at Toronto-area restaurants, as means to spread the message about cancer awareness; at first, the daffodils were given to the patrons, just to get the word out about cancer, but when some wanted to pay for the flowers or make a donation, it was realized that the daffodils could be used as a fundraising tool for the Society.

This led to the first daffodil days in the spring of 1957, when Society volunteers in Toronto raised over $1,200 on sales of daffodils. As the first flower of spring, the daffodil became a symbol of hope in the fight against cancer and daffodil days fundraising events spread throughout the rest of Canada and amongst cancer organizations around the world, including the American Cancer Society, the Irish Cancer Society and The Cancer Council Australia.

Today, the Society is the world's largest purchaser of daffodils. In 2000, the Canadian Cancer Society adopted the daffodil as part of its logo, replacing the sword and snakes logo, which symbolized the rod of Asclepius, the dominant symbol for professional healthcare associations in North America. Many cancer organizations have also incorporated the daffodil in their logos including The Cancer Council Australia, Irish Cancer Society and Marie Curie Cancer Care, although the American Cancer Society continues to use a rod of Asclepius-styled logo.

Relay For Life[edit]

Relay For Life is the Canadian Cancer Society's signature fundraising event. Relay For Life is a non-competitive, outdoor, overnight relay held in hundreds of communities across Canada every year. The 12-hour relay brings teams of 10 people together to take turns walking, running or wheeling around a track from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Main events include a Survivors' Victory Lap, a luminary ceremony to remember loved ones lost to cancer as well as anything from karaoke to bingo to help keep people energized throughout the night. In 2009, the event raised more than $52 million for the Society at 474 events across Canada.[4]

Cops for Cancer[edit]

The first Cops for Cancer program started in 1994 when Sergeant Gary Goulet, an Edmonton police officer with a shaved head, posed for a picture with a young cancer patient. The officer wanted to support the boy, who was being ridiculed at school because of his hair loss. Since then law enforcement and emergency services officers from across Canada have held Cops for Cancer fundraising events for the Canadian Cancer Society. During these events, each year hundreds of police, officials, and members of the public shave their heads to raise money to support children with cancer and their families. Other fundraising activities from this group include golf tournaments and elite sporting events. Since it began, the program has raised over $32.8 million.


Introduced in 2005 the Thing-a-ma-boob, is an educational keyring made of four different sized beads each indicating the various sized lumps that can be detected through regular breast self-exams, physical exams by a healthcare professional, 1st mammogram, to regular mammograms.

Money raised from the sale of the Thing-a-ma-boob will go towards funding breast cancer research, providing support services for victims and their families, as well as prevention and advocacy initiatives.[5]


The Jacques-Cantin Lodge, Montreal

The Canadian Cancer Society offers a variety of information and support services to Canadians including:

  • A bilingual, toll-free Cancer Information Service (1 888 939-3333)
  • – a peer-support program that connects people with similar cancer experiences
  • Camp Goodtimes, a free summer camp for children with cancer[6]
  • Accommodation and transportation services in some areas
  • Free wigs for cancer patients and trained professionals to help with fitting
  • Smokers Helpline is a national tobacco cessation service

Big Tobacco Lies is a campaign run by the Tobacco Industry Action Committee to provide outreach and information on tobacco use. The group lobbied for Bill 45, the Making Healthier Choices act, which was passed in May 2015.[7]


The Canadian Cancer Society is the largest national charitable funder of cancer research. Cancer research is funded through the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute. Using a peer review process, research grants and training opportunities are funded for all types of cancer and include basic laboratory research, clinical trials as well as behavioral, psychosocial and population-based cancer research.

The survival rate for Canadians with cancer to survive at least 5 years jumped from 25% in the 1940s to over 60% as of 2016. In 2015-2016, the Canadian Cancer Society funded over 350 projects and $44 million in research in three aspects; prevention, basic/biomedical/translational, and quality of life.

The Canadian Cancer Society created the Research Information Outreach Teams (RIOT) in Kingston, London, Toronto, and Ottawa with university students and young scientists focused on community outreach.

Notable research that the Canadian Cancer Society has funded includes:

  • the development of the cobalt-60 unit in the 1950s to treat cancer tumors with cobalt therapy, a treatment still widely used today
  • the discovery of vinblastine as successful chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma in the 1950s, also a treatment for cancer still used today
  • the 1960s discovery of stem cells and their use in bone marrow transplants as a cancer treatment

The Canadian Cancer Society also advocates on behalf of Canadians by encouraging governments to pass public policies that will help prevent cancer and help people who have cancer. Issues the Society advocates for include tobacco control, ornamental use of pesticides, health systems reform, occupational carcinogen exposure, cancer screening and gene patenting.

The Canadian Cancer Society gives out four research awards in the advancement in the field of cancer research. The Robert L. Noble Prize is given for achievements in basic biomedical cancer research. The O. Harold Warwick Prize is given to researchers who made accomplishments in cancer control research.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Donation drop forces merger of Canada's largest cancer charities". The Globe and Mail. 2017-02-01. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  2. ^ a b "Canadian Cancer Society".
  3. ^ "How your donations help - Canadian Cancer Society".
  4. ^ "How your donations help - Canadian Cancer Society".
  5. ^ "Get screened for breast cancer - Canadian Cancer Society".
  6. ^ "Camp Goodtimes". Camp Goodtimes. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  7. ^ "Big Tobacco Lies - Canadian Cancer Society".

External links[edit]