East Valley residents have an opportunity to play an important role in a research project that should have a profound effect on cancer research over the next three decades.
The project is the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study-3, and it requires participants who have never had a cancer diagnosis and are between the ages of 30 and 65 to commit to fill out surveys sent every two to three years over the next 30 years. During the in-person enrollment session, volunteers take a brief survey, have their waist circumference measured and give a blood sample, which takes somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes.
Those who do sign up will be among approximately 300,000 people across the country to participate in the American Cancer Society’s third prevention study; the first study began in the 1950s, while the second, which is ongoing, started in 1982.
“We have a new generation, and it’s time to do a new study,” said CP-3 Project Manager Alyss Jensby.
The purpose of all three studies is to find the factors in life that can cause cancer. In the first two studies, researchers uncovered the correlation between smoking and lung cancer, the link between large waist size and increased death rates in cancer, and how air pollution effects lung and heart conditions, according to a press release.
Those are just a few of the things the ACS has discovered through the first two projects, and Jensby said the organization continues to glean more information from that second study to this day, for example how walking an hour a day can reduce the occurrences of cancer.
As Jensby mentioned earlier though, the third study will account for the things a new generation of people encounter on a day to day basis. The study can account for the effects continued technological innovations have on people, can account for the shift in environmental factors both natural and manmade, and can tail back to the early studies by confirming or disproving what researchers discovered over the last few decades.
“I just want to fast forward for 30 years to see what we find,” she said. “You never really know the information you’ll get out of it.”
Seventy-year-old Chandler resident Alan Zaben said he hopes the study will find a tie between a person’s stress level, as well as the person’s overall lifestyle, to cancer. It’s a theory he has developed after two bouts of cancer; the first came 25 years ago, and the second diagnosis was in February 2012. He said he’ll continue to have chemotherapy sessions for the rest of his life because of the second diagnosis.
Zaben places a strong emphasis on stress factors for his original diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in the late ‘80s, and said the devices people use today only increase their stress level.
“All of these newfangled inventions, all these new toys and games, I think it has some effect — maybe not a large effect, but some effect — on how we live. And I think that’s something that potentially needs to be controlled,” he said.
One of the factors Jensby said might dissuade people from signing up is the time commitment, as 30 years is a long time to participate in anything. But she emphasized the study, which keeps the information it collects private, isn’t all that time consuming given the infrequency of the surveys over the time period.
The timeframe didn’t dissuade Chandler resident Janelle Blaylock from setting up her appointment to register, she said she signed up alongside her sister because of how much cancer has touched her family — their mom in this case — and others they’ve met.
Blaylock said her view is if she can do anything to get closer to a cure for the various forms of cancer, then it was worth doing.
“Hopefully, in my lifetime, there will be a major breakthrough for future generations to come,” she said.
More information about the project is available by visiting cps3phoenix.org. There, people can set up an appointment and find the dates and times for each session, which include two in Mesa and one each in Gilbert and Chandler beginning Nov. 7 and concluding Nov. 14.
“We really want every community to be represented,” Jensby said, citing the East Valley’s diverse population.
What: American Cancer Society 30-year Cancer Study signups
When: Nov. 7-Nov. 14
Where: Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa
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