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Commentary & Opinion

Blair Horner: Help to discover new cancer treatments

For many of us, our civic participation begins and ends with voting.  Though voting is crucial to the health of our democracy, few of us have the opportunity to take part in something that can really change the lives of people all around the world.

One of those rare opportunities has just come our way.

The folks at the American Cancer Society are soliciting volunteers to be part of an ongoing long-term research project to examine the linkages between the lives that we lead and the growth of cancer.  The study is called Cancer Prevention Study-3, or CPS-3, which is designed to study lifestyle and/or genetic risk factors for cancer in adult men and women from across the United States.

There have been previous studies using large numbers of American volunteers, whose activities were activities tracked over time, and which identified important public health findings, such as:

·         CPS-1 identified the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer;

·         CPS-2 identified the significant impact of being overweight or obese on risk of various types of cancer occurrence and death;

·         Those studies also helped link aspirin use and the reduced risk of colon cancer; postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy and various cancers (such as breast and ovarian); and diabetes and cancers of the pancreas and colon.

Now researchers are asking for a new set of volunteers to build on the work of the past and to help identify new connections to cancers.  For example, there are new medications available today that may affect a person’s risk of developing cancer, and new studies like CPS-3 will help researchers examine these kinds of exposures.

Finally, CPS-3 will explore theories related to cancer by utilizing new technologies.  For example, researchers have now sequenced the entire human genome, and CPS-3 will allow for better understanding of the role of genetics in cancer development.

The goal of CPS-3 is to enroll a diverse group of at least 300,000 men and women who are willing to make a long-term commitment to the study (this commitment simply involves completing periodic follow-up surveys), who are between the ages of 30 and 65 years, and have never been diagnosed with cancer (not including basal and squamous skin cancers, which are not considered malignant).  Large-scale studies like CPS-3 are scientifically valid only if you can successfully track and “follow” your participants over long periods of time.

The 300,000 men and women who join in this national effort will provide information about their health, lifestyle, and environment, as well as provide a waist measurement and a small blood specimen (to study genetic and other factors).  They will be asked to update some of the survey information and report any new health conditions (like cancer) periodically for 20-30 years into the future.  Researchers will use data from the study to identify potential causes of cancer and ways to prevent cancer.

Pretty important work.

How can you find out more about this study?  You can visit www.cancer.org/cps3, or send an email to cps3@cancer.org, or call 888-604-5888.

Enrollment for the general public will take place at three locations of the next week:

·         Thursday, Oct. 18: 10 am-1:30 pm, Hilton Garden Inn at Albany Medical Center;

·         Friday, Oct. 19: 7 am-2 pm, Harriman State Campus, Building 8A, New York State Department of Tax and Finance, Albany; and,

·         Sunday, Oct. 21: 9 am-2 pm, Making Strides Against Cancer Walk, Washington Park, Albany.

For those of you who have not had cancer, this gives you a unique opportunity to make a real contribution to scientific advancement as well as an important way to contribute to your community.

Again, if you want to find more about this study, visit www.cancer.org/cps3

Blair Horner is the Vice President for Advocacy for the American Cancer Society, Eastern Division. His commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of the American Cancer Society.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.