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Our new chief medical and scientific officer says he's excited to get started

​He will assume his duties on Oct. 21 and will relocate from Arizona to Atlanta

William G. Cance, MD, our new chief medical and scientific officer, said on Tuesday that he's looking forward to many things, but top of the list is "working with such an amazing organization and a team of 1.5 million volunteers to more rapidly take advances in cancer treatment and cancer prevention to the patients."

The oncologist said: "We are at a great time in cancer therapy with the advent of precision medicine, precision treatment, precision prevention, and using science and predictive markers to guide our approaches to preventing cancer and to treating cancer. I also believe that we are at a crossroads of being able to fund such initiatives because of the dearth of federal research dollars, the high costs of health care, and the lack of creative focus on our one competitor - cancer. I hope to make a difference in those areas." 

In the August 15 media release announcing his appointment, Dr. Cance noted that the ACS name "has been synonymous with progress and hope." He said his goal is to "help this historic organization achieve its mission to further reduce the burden of cancer nationwide and globally."

Dr. Cance will lead the integration of our Research and Cancer Control departments, unifying our intramural and extramural research, prevention and early detection programs, patient and caregiver support, program and service strategies, global cancer control, and health systems.

Rich Wender, MD, our chief cancer control officer, met Dr. Cance in Atlanta during the oncologist's initial interview. He described our new chief medical and scientific officer as “engaging and enthusiastic.”

“He’ll be a wonderful spokesperson for ACS and our work. He could not have been more excited about coming to lead our mission activities,” Rich said. He added: "He has a good understanding of the special opportunities and challenges that come with this job - the need to have an entrepreneurial mindset and to link how we drive towards our mission goals and how we fund the work. He is willing to take thoughtful risks – definitely an attribute we need."

Dr. Cance brings to the American Cancer Society an impressive breadth and depth of experience as an executive leader, practicing surgical oncologist, researcher, and entrepreneur, skills that will help us pursue our 2035 challenge goal to reduce cancer mortality by 40 percent.

Since 2016, Dr. Cance has been at the University of Arizona, serving as deputy director and presently as interim director of the Arizona Cancer Center in Phoenix. He is highly regarded as a leader who established a culture of collaboration that advanced cancer care and treatment. He has been a professor in the departments of interdisciplinary oncology, pharmacology and toxicology, and surgery for the University of Arizona Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy in Phoenix. 

Dr. Cance, who goes by "Bill," has an active surgical oncology practice, and he is principal investigator for a 25-year National Cancer Institute grant focused on focal adhesion kinase, a protein involved in cancer metastasis. He holds eight patents and has been involved in several entrepreneurial projects to bring his research advancements to market, much in the same way our BrightEdge impact fund seeks to do.

Prior to joining the University of Arizona, Dr. Cance held leadership positions at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the University of Florida, and the University of North Carolina. He earned undergraduate and medical degrees from Duke University, and he completed a residency in general surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University School of Medicine and a fellowship in surgical oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 

In his announcement email to all staff last Thursday, CEO Gary Reedy gave a special acknowledgement to Len Lichtenfeld, MD, for his leadership and the excellent job he has done as interim chief medical and scientific officer since November 2018. Gary also thanked the volunteers and staff who assisted in the interviewing process. 

If you would like to share this news with others, here is a link to the press release on

PHOTO: Pictured with Dr. Cance in the smaller image is his wife, Jenn. It was taken during a trip to the Grand Canyon.

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