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December 03, 2016
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The fight against cancer: Imagine a cancer-free tomorrow

Residents of Northeast Pennsylvania (NEPA) are being offered the opportunity to do something to help fight cancer by volunteering to join a new landmark study in which researchers will look at the lifestyle, behavioral, environmental and genetic factors that cause, or prevent cancer. We at The River Reporter urge NEPA residents to consider enrolling.

From 2005 through 2009, Pennsylvania was ranked ninth among all states for the high number of cases of all types of cancer, with 505 incidents for every 100,000 people. (Kentucky was highest with 523 cases, Arizona lowest with 394. New Jersey is ranked sixth; New York State, which was virtually tied with Pennsylvania, ranked tenth.)

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there will be 1.6 million new cancer cases in the U.S. in 2013, with more than 79,500 new cases in Pennsylvania, including the following top four: nearly 10,500 cases of female breast cancer, nearly 11,000 cases of lung cancer, approximately 9,450 cases of prostate cancer and an estimated 7,480 cases of colon and rectal cancer. (Other cancers in the top 10 in Pennsylvania are uterine, bladder, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, melanomas, thyroid and kidney.)

The ACS Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) has the goal of following 500,000 Americans for 20 to 30 years, and this year in its NEPA recruitment drive, ACS is seeking 1,200 volunteers. Though it is still early in the year, so far just over 300 NEPA residents have signed up to participate.

Long-term, large-scale medical studies are important in yielding cancer prevention data that helps lead to life-saving information. ACS has sponsored many studies since the 1950s, and these have led to findings that show the now well known link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, between heavy drinking and pancreatic cancer, between post-menopausal hormone use and breast cancer, the link between aspirin use and lower risk of colon cancer and the impact of air pollution on heart and lung conditions among other findings.

CPS-1, which ended in 1972, followed one million men and women in 25 states for 12 years; it focused mostly (though not exclusively) on tobacco use. CPS-2, which began in 1982, followed 1.2 million subjects in 50 states to determine causes of death; data collected in CPS-2 continues to be followed for mortality. According to ACS, CPS-3 is now needed because the CPS-2 study population is aging out. “We must recruit a new study population for the next generations of research,” according to ACS.

Most of us know someone who has had cancer or who died from cancer, or perhaps we ourselves have been diagnosed. ACS says that “half of all men and one-third of all women in the U.S. will develop cancer during their lifetimes.”

CPS-3 is open to anyone between 30 and 65 who has never been diagnosed with cancer. Enrollment involves a few simple steps. (1) Enroll online at www.nepacps3.org. (2) Show up at a local enrollment event to read and sign a consent form, complete a brief written survey, provide a waist circumference measurement and a small blood sample. (3) Complete a more detailed survey at home about lifestyle, behavioral and other factors related to your health. (4) Periodically over the years, you will receive a survey at home to update your information; this will take an estimated eight hours of your time over the next 20 to 30 years.

This amount of time seems little enough to make a difference in the fight against cancer.

We at The River Reporter urge you to consider signing up, perhaps in the name of someone you know who has had cancer or succumbed to it. Imagine a cancer-free tomorrow and consider what you personally can do to help get there.