Narrating the Numbers

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has been dedicated to saving lives and increasing awareness of cancer risk since 1913. ACS fights on the front lines against cancer by encouraging prevention, rallying communities, providing patient support, funding and conducting research, and collaborating with lawmakers to pass needed legislation.

ACS provides groundbreaking research that powers breakthroughs in the fight against cancer. Their reports—published yearly as expert-focused Cancer Statistics and consumer-focused Cancer Facts and Figures—arm medical professionals, policy makers, advocates, and the general public with the most current information on cancer.

The Challenge

Unlocking Dense Data

To better understand cancer’s causes, delineate preventive measures, and develop cures, the cancer fighting community needs an easy way to stay informed about the scope of the disease, risk factors, preventative measures, and emerging treatments.

Prior to 2016, American Cancer Society’s robust cancer statistics report existed primarily as PDFs. The static format limited the accessibility and usefulness of the report for different audiences. To expand the reach of its important research, ACS recognized a need to reimagine the report to match the way modern audiences find, consume, and engage with information.

The Path Forward

A flexible digital resource

Atlantic 57 collaborated with ACS to transform the research into the Cancer Statistics Center—an interactive digital experience that empowers experts, patients, and their advocates to do more with cancer data. The site features 14,000 data points, including projections, current rates, and historical trends in cancer incidence, mortality, survival, risk factors, and screening.

Built for today and tomorrow

To present ACS’ robust data as effectively and dynamically as possible, we analyzed the information alongside their subject matter experts. This process allowed us to understand the depth of their research and uncover patterns that informed the site architecture.

The product needed to showcase ACS’ most current data and be flexible and extensible to be easily updated with new information for years to come. Our team assessed and tested several options to create a feature rich and dynamic application that can evolve alongside the data.

Designed for different audiences

We conducted interviews with oncologists, cancer-control advocates, and a spectrum of stakeholders. Our research enabled us to design the site to accommodate how different users wanted to interact with the data.

The result is a tool that meets the needs of experts and the public alike. The first level offers the general public an overview of the current state of the fight against cancer. Cancer experts are able to delve into any specific data set, find correlations across datasets, and create custom visualizations that can be exported as an image or downloaded as an excel spreadsheet for integration into their own work.

A tool for storytelling

Rather than a repository for information, the site presents data in an editorial fashion and is structured to empower further storytelling by its users. Users can analyze data in different ways in order to tell different kinds stories about cancer, and easily transpose data from the Cancer Statistics Center into their own narratives.

Our work with the American Cancer Society has won various awards, including a Webby Award (Finalist), a Digiday Publishing Award (Finalist), and a W3 Award (Silver).

This allows users to distill meaning from the complex information on cancer’s global burden and treatment options. It also includes interactive infographics of current cancer statistics and tools to create customizable charts and maps that have been optimized for sharing across social platforms. Through various forms and multiple angles, the Cancer Statistics Center equips diverse audience with critical data for the fight against cancer.

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