Cancer study seeks volunteersIt took 188,000 volunteers and three years of studies in the 1950s to figure out that smoking causes lung cancer. Now it’s our turn.
By: Jana Peterson and Tom Olson, Pine Journal
It took 188,000 volunteers and three years of studies in the 1950s to figure out that smoking causes lung cancer.
Now it’s our turn.
The American Cancer Society is asking hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country to participate in a new cancer study — only this one is expected to last closer to three decades.
The commitment isn’t as big as it might sound. Participants are being recruited as part of the organization’s third major study, which asks participants to fill out a short survey every two or three years in an effort to determine causes of cancer and prevention techniques.
“Every generation we do a cancer-prevention study and the purpose is to learn new relevant factors about cancer, the genetic or physical or environmental factors that may increase the risk or prevent cancer,” said Marjorie Johnson, community partnerships specialist for the American Cancer Society in Duluth.
The organization’s previous Cancer Prevention Studies, referred to as CPS-I and CPS-II, began in 1959 and 1982, respectively. CPS-II is still ongoing.
Johnson said another generational study is necessary at this point due to environmental differences between each generation.
“The population is different — the way we work, the way we eat, our activity level,” she said. “Our grandparents were much more physically active than we are.”
The goal is to include at least 500 people in the Twin Ports area, although up to 1,200 people could be accommodated, Johnson said. Men and women between the ages of 30 and 65 who have never been diagnosed with cancer (not including basal or squamous cell skin cancer) are eligible to participate.
The nationwide goal is closer to 300,000.
To participate, people are asked to register online at www.cps3TwinPorts.org or call toll-free 1-888-604-5888. Registration takes about five minutes. Next, each potential participant needs to schedule an appointment to give a blood sample, have a waist measurement taken and sign a consent form. Before going to the appointment, participants have to fill out a baseline survey online with details of occupation, age, behavioral habits, race, medical conditions, etc.
Appointments are being scheduled for the week of April 2-6 at eight locations in the Twin Ports area: U.S. Bank (Duluth), First Covenant Church (Duluth), Peace in Christ Lutheran Church (Hermantown), St. Michael’s Catholic Church (Duluth), Asbury United Methodist Church (Duluth), First United Methodist Church (Duluth), Superior Public Library (Superior) and the Mariner Mall (Superior). After that, surveys will be sent every two or three years asking for medical updates for the next 20 to 30 years. Participants will also get an annual newsletter updating them on the study.
Johnson said the previous studies have been successful, linking smoking to increased cancer risk in the 1950s and later showing a relationship between the use of aspirin and a decreased risk of colon cancer.
“It’s a way of giving back to the community, a way of protecting the next generation from cancer,” she said. “Medical knowledge affects lives.”
“Out of 300,000 men and women, we know a bunch will get cancer,” Johnson said, adding that approximately one in every two men and one in every three women gets cancer at some point in their lives. “If a study participant does get cancer, [study doctors] will ask for access to the person’s medical records, although they can refuse. Basically they’re looking for three things: To identify new risk factors, assess cancer in minority communities and leverage new technologies like the blood samples [taken when the participant signs up]. If someone reports having cancer, they can look at that and compare background, occupation, environmental facts, etc. They can compare to someone with a similar background who didn’t get cancer and look at what may have caused it or prevented it.
“We need people who don’t get cancer as much as we need people who do get cancer,” she added.
While the American Cancer Society doesn’t lobby legislators, the organization tends to shape public policy, Johnson said. Cigarettes are a prime example of the study’s effects, she said.
“The study is part of why there are warning labels on cigarette packages and we hear warnings about secondhand smoke and why you no longer see Joe Camel on TV.”
Most importantly, Johnson said, the study requires little work by participants.
“It’s a very small commitment, but it has a very big reward.”
For questions, visit www.cps3TwinPorts.org or call toll-free 1-888-604-5888.
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