The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship

NCCS Founding Meeting

Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan, a co-founder of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (center), leads the NCCS founding meeting. “It is as if we have invented sophisticated techniques to save people from drowning, but once they have been pulled from the water, we leave them on the dock to cough and splutter on their own in the belief that we have done all that we can.” Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan, from his essay Seasons of Survival: Reflections of a Physician with Cancer, New England Journal of Medicine, July 1985.

In 1986, the founders of NCCS set out to establish an organization that replace the words “cancer victim” with “cancer survivor,” and bring about a different notion of the cancer experience. The founders envisioned an organization that would deal with the full spectrum of survivorship issues related to living with, through and beyond a cancer diagnosis.

Founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico, NCCS’s diverse leadership included some of the most recognized experts on employment and disability law, health care consumerism and psychosocial and behavioral research. Consequently, NCCS quickly developed a reputation as the “go to” organization for how to deal with the physiological, psychosocial, economic and spiritual issues that accompany a cancer diagnosis. The informed patient was — and still is — at the heart of NCCS’s agenda. NCCS began its work by contributing to the literature and evidence base for quality cancer care. NCCS’s first publication dealt with doctor/patient communications, followed by publications on survivors’ rights and how to be an informed and knowledgeable health care consumer.

In 1992, NCCS relocated its offices to Washington, D.C. to be closer to the organizations and institutions that play a role in educating government agencies and policymakers about the need for quality cancer care throughout the survivorship continuum — beginning at the moment of diagnosis and continuing for the remainder of life.


After reading NCCS’s Imperatives for Quality Cancer Care, NCI Director, Dr. Richard Klausner establishes the Office of Cancer Survivorship to encourage survivorship research.

In 1993, NCCS convened other patient advocates to create the Cancer Leadership Council (CLC)  The CLC forum has since grown to include 29 leading patient advocacy, professional and voluntary health organizations and meets monthly in Washington D.C. as a patient-centered forum of national advocacy organizations addressing public policy issues in cancer.

NCCS develops its Imperatives for Quality Cancer Care: Access, Advocacy, Action and Accountability in 1995. This was the first report to approach quality cancer care for the patient/survivor perspective and provided the impetus that led to the creation of the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Survivorship in 1996.

NCCS led a nationwide grassroots campaign to make the cause, the care and the cure of cancer the nation’s top health priority. The campaign culminated in 1998’s THE MARCH…Coming Together to Conquer CancerTM, an event that brought more than 100,000 supporters to the nation’s capital and a million more to events in all 50 states.

In 2004, NCCS launched Cancer Advocacy Now!™ to assure that America’s nearly 14 million cancer survivors and those who care for them have a voice in advocating for quality cancer care in Washington, D.C. and in forums where health care policy is decided.

Patient education is a priority for NCCS. We believe that access to credible and accurate patient information, such as NCCS’s award-winning Cancer Survival Toolbox® is key to demanding and receiving quality cancer care.

For years, NCCS has played an active role to help support and pass cancer care planning legislation. The latest version is again bipartisan legislation being championed by Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX), the Cancer Care Planning and Communications (CCPC) Act, H.R. 5160. The CCPC Act encourages the development of a personalized cancer care plan for Medicare beneficiaries and is our top federal priority in the 115th Congress.

For more information about NCCS’s history, please view the NCCS Timeline of Achievements.

Highlights of NCCS Policy Accomplishments: 30 Years of Advocacy

Fostering a Patient-Centered System of Cancer Care
Ensuring Prompt and Appropriate Payment for Cancer Treatments
Making the Affordable Care Act Work for Cancer Patients
Improving the Environment for Cancer Research
Building the Evidence Base for Quality Cancer Care
Ongoing and Future Work
Developing a System for Measuring and Improving Cancer Care Quality

NCCS Leadership and Executive Board »