Saturday, July 9, 2011

The American Cancer Society and Evil

Wow, it can be difficult to sort through all the things people recommend to me.

In the midst of researching some natural therapies people are pushing on me, I ran across an attack on the American Cancer Society. I was pretty offended, as has some nice resources and good information on cancer.

With a little research, though, I have to say that nice information on a web site ought to cost less than $350 million, and the people who produce that web site ought not to be making over a million dollars a year.

I was very surprised that the ACS has two people on staff who make over a million dollars a year with benefits. It is also extremely hard--read impossible here because I had to rely on other web sites to find them--to get the Form 990 for the ACS, which most charitable organizations, especially large ones, provide. For example, go to and look for their financial statements and Form 990. I'll bet 95% of you can find them in under 60 seconds.

Try that at, which I'm not going to give a link to because my link would help their web site.

Others who have found the ACS Form 990 have reported that they have 2 people over a million dollars a year and many, many more over $100,000. Total salaries for their administrative people consume about 60% of what you give them.

Thus, while I think this link overstates the case, I am going to give the link because I think people need to avoid giving to them.

I know the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society only covers blood cancers, but I found their financial statements in about 10 seconds on their web site. They also had the easiest to read financials of anything I've seen today.

I already know them as an excellent organization. They give easy to follow stats on the increased survivability among leukemia and lymphoma patients over the last 30 years. They have done an amazing job, and I'm sure everyone reading this has heard of leukemia before they read my blog.

Of course, right? Everyone has!

Yeah, that's because of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and their hard work.

You would not believe the kind of work the doctors are going through to determine treatment for me. They're looking at multiple markers on cells, calling other doctors with experience at what works on those markers, and determining a treatment based on experience with those cells.

It's not simple. There are lymphocytes, monocytes, neutrophils, T-Cells, B-Cells, and NK-cells, which are "Natural Killer Cells." There are plasmacytoid dendritic cells, and all of those come in immature and mature forms. And then there's determining whether the problem is occurring in blood production in the bone marrow or after production in the blood itself.

The next step is to find out whether I have the FLT3 length mutation, then call the heads of a clinical study, and find out whether I can take their drug along with my chemo even if I don't the Acute Myeloid Leukemia markers, like the rest of the people in their study.

I wrote all that to make it sound complicated. Here, let me let it feel more complicated. Chances are, the original incorrect (or at least unconfirmed) diagnosis of Blastic Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Neoplasm was probably based on my testing positive for CD4 and CD56. But there's a lot more to consider. Take this case I read about, for example:

The tumor cells were positive for CD45, CD4 (weak), CD56, CD43, CD68 (KP-I, partly), and negative for B-cell and all other T-cell, NK-cell, and myeloid markers. Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) was not detected with EBV-encoded small nuclear marker RNA (EBER) probe.

You get the point. These people are working hard, and their research is not being wasted. They are finding varied and amazingly precise defects and learning how to cure them.

Could they be better at preaching prevention? Oh, yeah. From what I can tell, advising patients to change their lifestyles to a healthier one is some sort of horrible crime against humanity.

But is the research worth it?

Yeah, it is. They're doing research and not paying multiple millions of dollars in six and seven-figure salaries like the American Cancer Society is. The Prevent Cancer Foundation, on the other hand, has a total salary of around $500,000 to handle their $7 million in donations. Those salaries are still stiff, with the top one at $290,000, but nothing like those of the ACS.

Keep in mind, though, that the Prevent Cancer Foundation only supports research towards preventing cancer. That's a great and important idea, but actually keeping cancer patients from dying is a good idea, too.

Okay, enough for today. This probably wasn't a very exciting post, but I wanted to take a good hard poke at the American Cancer Society for spending so little of their money on research and having such awful salary figures.


  1. Wow thanks for sharing. I never knew about the ACS.

  2. Yeah, I was shocked. I started the research thinking I was going to end up defending the American Cancer Society. My mistake!