The American Cancer Society is seeking 300,000 volunteers who have never had cancer to be part of a cancer prevention study, including hundreds from northern Wisconsin.
To be eligible for the study, participants should be between 30 and 65 years old, never been diagnosed with cancer and be willing to make a long-term commitment to the study, which involves completing periodic follow-up surveys at home.
The study will better help researchers understand the lifestyle and genetic factors that cause or prevent cancer.
Enrollment events are being held at Marshfield Clinic locations around the area. Locally, enrollments will be held at the Marshfield Clinic Weston Center, 3501 Cranberry Blvd., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 3-7 p.m. Another enrollment will be offered on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Marshfield Clinic Wausau Center, 2727 Plaza Dr., from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The enrollment process involves signing a consent form, completing a brief written survey, providing some physical measurements, and giving a blood sample.
The American Cancer Society has been conducting long-term studies since the 1950s. Key findings of those studies include the link between smoking and secondhand smoke to lung cancer, leading to warning labels on cigarettes and smoke-free legislation.
Merrill cancer survivor Ginny Schaper participates in the long-term studies of the American Cancer Society. As a survivor, she isn’t eligible to participate in this study, but she will be volunteering at the local enrollment events and is making an emotional appeal to people to volunteer for the study.”
Think about what if you heard the words ‘you have cancer,’ or your parents, or your child,” she said. “Those are the most frightening words you’re ever going to hear.”
In part, because of the knowledge gained from past studies, the survival rate for cancer patients has increased dramatically in the last 40 years.
“The more people that get involved to try to help other people, we can prevent future generations from ever hearing ‘you have cancer’,” Schaper said.
More than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year. Many of the people involved in the cancer prevention study will be diagnosed with cancer over the course of the study, allowing researchers to examine the common factors among those that do develop cancer and those that do not.