Subjects needed for cancer study

Published 10:10 pm Thursday, July 5, 2012

People ages 30-65 who have never been diagnosed with cancer are needed for a massive cancer prevention study that will help researchers better understand causes of cancer.

Two kickoff events for the American Cancer Society-led study will be held in the next two weeks. In September, participants will be able to register at a variety of locations across the area, including Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk.

“It’s essentially a very simple commitment, yet you could be saving so many lives,” said Dawn Ward, senior director for marketing communications for the South Atlantic Division of the American Cancer Society.

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The Cancer Prevention Study will gather thousands of people across the nation and collect data on them such as lifestyle and behavior, as well as waist measurements and small blood samples.

Over the course of about 20 to 30 years, participants will complete follow-up surveys by mail every couple of years. Using data for participants who are eventually diagnosed with cancer, researchers can determine risk factors that may have contributed to the disease. Likewise, data for participants who remain cancer-free can help researchers pinpoint factors that help reduce cancer risk.

“We start to see habits, and we start to see trends,” Ward said. If people who do a certain action “have a diagnosis of cancer 10 years from now, 20 years from now, it’s happened enough times that we can probably correlate this action with an increasing risk of cancer,” she said.

This is the third Cancer Prevention Study by the American Cancer Society. The first study helped establish the link between smoking and lung cancer.

“It really led to a lot of our understanding of tobacco use and our activity regarding tobacco cessation,” Ward said.

The second study began in 1982 and still is ongoing.

“For CPS-3, it’s really important that we can get an understanding of environmental and lifestyle as well as genetic factors,” Ward said.

To participate in the study, men and women of all races ages 30 to 65 are needed. Participants must have never been diagnosed with cancer except for basal or squamous cell skin carcinoma. At a September enrollment event, they will complete a comprehensive survey, give a small blood sample and have physical measurements taken such as waist, weight, height and blood pressure.

Ward said the study needs a wide variety of ethnicities in order to be successful.

“Cancer affects everyone,” she said. “Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It’s important for us to have a thorough understanding of everyone who lives in the United States.”

Kick-off events are planned on July 11 in Chesapeake and on July 16 in Hampton. On Sept. 22, enrollment in the study will be held at Sentara Obici Hospital from 8 to 11:30 a.m.

To find out more information or to register for the enrollment, visit www.cps3hamptonroads.org. Participation in the study is completely free, but registration is needed so they know how many phlebotomists to have on hand, Ward said.